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The Rubaiyat: a Book of Poems and Posh

Iranian astronomer, mathematician, and poet Omar Khayyam penned 11th century’s finest quatrains. Khayyam questioned several aspects of life: life itself, faith, death, and God. Nonetheless, he treasured his life and recognized the significance of living in the moment. His quatrains were actually regarded as the bible of the carpe diem belief.

Victorian poet Edward FitzGerald translated Khayyam’s poems into English and published The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam in the late 1800s. British bookbinders George Sutcliffe and Francis Sangorski were prominent at that time for their luxurious book designs. In the early 1900s, they were appointed by Sotheran’s bookstore to recreate FitzGerald’s work.

The book was completed in 1911. Its cover was embellished with a bejeweled-tailed peacock, confined in elaborate and floral motifs. At the back was the buozouki, a Greek musical instrument. The book comprised 1,000 precious stones, such as rubies, turquoises, emeralds, amethysts, and topazes. Over 5,000 pieces of leather, silver, irony, and ebony, and 600 200-karat gold leaf sheets were also detailed.

On March 1912, American Gabriel Weis purchased the book in an auction in London. The book was then packed and delivered to the New York-bound ship, Titanic.

A month after, Titanic sank and took thousands of lives, even the grandest book the world once had.

This article originally appeared on English Magazines published by Vibal Group, Inc.