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The beauty and symbolism of gold, from the Early Bronze Age to the 20th century

Queen Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom (1819-1901)

Zendagan-e ma dar kuhestan / زندگانی ما در کوهستان / Our Life in the Highlands 1884-85

Manuscript on paper written in black and coloured inks. Illuminations in opaque watercolour and metallic paints. | 21.8 x 15.9 cm (book measurement (conservation)) | RCIN 1005029

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A Persian translation of Our Life in the Highlands: More leaves from the journal of a life in the Highlands, from 1862 to 1882.

In 1868, Queen Victoria caused a sensation when she published selected passages from her personal journals of the royal family's holidays in Scotland. Leaves from the Journal of our Life in the Highlands and its 1884 follow-up, More Leaves..., were international best-sellers of their day.
The Queen’s book even reached a Persian readership. During their first meeting in 1873, Nasir al-Din Shah of Iran told Queen Victoria that he had read her book, having had it translated into Persian. When Queen Victoria published the second volume of her Highland journals she sent a copy to Tehran where Nasir al-Din Shah again ordered a court translator to render the work into Persian.


This manuscript was commissioned for presentation to the Queen by Robert Murdoch Smith who wrote the following letter to the Royal Librarian on 5 November, 1885: 

My dear Sir Philip Owen,

Just before leaving Persia last May to take up my appointment to the Edinburgh Museum, I was asked by one of the court translators to help him in a little work he was then, by the Shah's personal command, engaged in – a translation Persian of Her Majesty's book "More Leaves into from the Journal of Our Life in the Highlands." The translation was being made from a copy presented by Her Majesty and was in the form of a single copy in manuscript for the shah's own perusal. My help was asked for by the translator regarding a few passages containing Scottish words and proper names which he could not find in the dictionary, and it was owing to this trifling difficulty that I came to know the translation was being made.

Thinking that the manuscript translation of this made for the Shah's personal use might be of interest to her Majesty, I got a second copy written out and left it to be illuminated and bound with covers in imitation of those used in Persia some three or four hundred years ago. I have just received it from Teheran and take the liberty of sending it to you in the hope that you may kindly find the means of presenting it to her Majesty without my appearing presumptuous or indiscreet.

Yours very truly,

R. Murdoch Smith


The binding of this volume is signed by Razi Taleqani, one of the masters of the Majma'-e Dar al-Sanaye', the School of Fine Arts in Tehran devoted to the revival of traditional Iranian arts and crafts during the Qajar period. He was better known as a painter and illuminator and undoubtedly also executed the book’s illuminated frontispiece which includes a large dedication in Persian to Queen Victoria.

The manuscript is contained within a silk bag with waxed lining and strings.