In Iranian culture and the expanse of the Persian language the tradition of story writing and story telling has existed since earliest times. The epic stories of Shahnameh (Book of Kings) and the romantic and amorous stories of Panj Ganj (also known as "Khamseh") were a staple of the story tellers. As Shahnameh is regarded as the greatest epic work in Persian literature, the Panj Ganj is also considered its most famous and beautiful romantic work.
The able composer and renowned compiler of the mystical and amorous tales of Panj Ganj is Nezami (Nizami) Ganjavi (1133–1222). He wrote a collection of five elegant narratives (the "five treasures") in superb verse, creating a masterpiece which survives today. The tales of "Khosrow and Shirin", and "Layli and Majnoon" are probably the best known of all such stories in the Persian-speaking world. Nizami's style in Panj Ganj became a model for many later poets in the Persian and Turkish languages, and later influenced European writers. Panj Ganj has been translated into all major European languages and is currently in print in at least eight countries as well as Iran. Some of the tales have inspired European authors (influencing, for instance, stories in Western versions of the Tales of Sinbad). On the International Memory of the World Register, five of the finest hand-written manuscripts were inscribed in 2011. All of them were written in the best calligraphic style of their period and illuminated with magnificent miniatures. They date from 1549, 1547, 1527, 1430, and 1318. The 1318 text is the oldest surviving text of the Panj Ganj.