Transoxiana Journal

Transoxiana 12
Agosto 2007
ISSN 1666-7050

Kalila wa Dimna on Silk

Paintings by Elena Uzdenikova

Read the introduction on Kalila wa Dimna and Persian National Fairy Tales by Pavel Basharin, RSUH (Moscow)

Images available at Kalila wa Dimna @ Transoxiana Image Galery (Click to enlarge)

About the Paintings

The golden Sazan On 17th October, in the Moscow Library of the Foreign Literature of M.I. Rudomino (VGBIL) took place the opening of my personal exhibition devoted to the Persian book miniature "Kalila wa Dimna".

I use a technic of painting on silk. Choice of material is not accidental. Silk has a vivacity and light of which the paper surface is deprived. It gives the sensation of the sun and a holiday, with what associates the art of the East. I choose the tradition of book miniature from the age of the Great Moguls, representing a synthesis of the Iranian, European and Indian picturesque traditions. The images of the animals played the main role in the miniature of the Moghuls. This images had usually certain symbolical value.

The Wise Belar and Queen Ilar I use one version of the animal genre in my works, when the whole history is centered in the figure of an animal. The space in the figure develops both inside and outside, the surface borders outline the figures, and the surrounding becomes a background. Here is used the technique of batik and gutta for the backgrounds. Using visual games, I have tried to mould in the miniatures the compound images becoming " the world within oneself".

About Kalila wa Dimna

The Shakal "Kalila and Dimna was originally written in Sanskrit, probably in Kashmir, some time in the fourth century A.D. In Sanskrit it was called the Panchatantra or "Five Discourses." It was written for three young princes who had driven their tutors to despair and their father to distraction. Afraid to entrust his kingdom to sons unable to master the most elementary lessons, the king turned over the problem to his wise wazir, and the wazir wrote the Panchatantra, which concealed great practical wisdom in the easily digestible form of animal fables. Six months later the princes were on the road to wisdom and later ruled judiciously. Two hundred years after that, a Persian shah sent his personal physician, Burzoe, to India to find a certain herb rumored to bestow eternal life upon him who partook of it. Burzoe returned with a copy of the Panchatantra instead, which he claimed was just as good as the miraculous herb, for it would bestow great wisdom on the reader. The shah had Burzoe translate it into Pehlevi and liked it so much that he enshrined the translation in a special room of his palace.

The Chase Three hundred years later, after the Muslim conquest of Persia and the Near East, a Persian convert to Islam named Ibn al-Mukaffa’ chanced upon Burzoe’s Pehlavi version and translated it into Arabic in a style so lucid it is still considered a model of Arabic prose. Called Kalila and Dimna, after the two jackals who are the main characters, the book was written mainly for the instruction of civil servants. It was so entertaining, however, that it proved popular with all classes, entered the folklore of the Muslim world, and was carried by the Arabs to Spain. There it was translated into Old Spanish in the 13th century. In Italy it was one of the first books to appear after the invention of printing.

Later it was also translated into Greek and then that version into Latin, Old Church Slavic, German and other languages. The Arabic version was translated into Ethiopic, Syriac, Persian, Turkish, Malay, Javanese, Laotian and Siamese. In the 19th century it was translated into Hindustani, thus completing the circle begun 1,700 years before in Kashmir." (1)

The Owls and the Crows The Latin text meant an opportunity of new translations into the Italian and Old French languages. Short-story writers of Renaissance scooped from gold fund Kalila wa Dimna inspiration: Bocaccio, Hans Saks, and later Lafanten.

My works prove that the Persian fairy tales have not lost a urgency and for today.


(1) Paul Lunde, "Kalila Wa Dimna". Saudi Aramco World, Volume 23, Number 4, July/August 1972. Published by Aramco Services Company, Houston, Texas. URL: (Last visited 26/7/2007).

Elena Uzdenikova


Elena V. Uzdenikova

Date of birth – 23 January 1967

Place of birth – Moscow

Home address: 107241 Russian Federation, Moscow.



In 1987 I finished complete course of the Moscow Secondary Industrial Art College and has been graduate as an Artist.

Exhibitions: The Lion and the Ox

I took part in Russian and International exhibitions. (From 1990 till present day).

I am working in painting of textile (batik), book illustration and graphic.

I am member of the International Federation of Artists and the Moscow Federation of Artists.

My works are in private collections in Russia and abroad.

Elena Uzdenikova

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