Mathnavi-ye ma'navi (Rhyming couplets of profound spriritual meaning) by Rumi (d.1273)

Detail of a pattern
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At A Glance

  • Period

    1458-1459 (863 A.H.) (text); ca. 1530 (illumination and painting)
  • Geography

    Herat (text), Afghanistan
  • Material

    Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
  • Dimension

    H x W: 16.4 x 10.5 cm (6 7/16 x 4 1/8 in)
  • Accession Number



Object Details

  • Calligrapher

    Sultan Ali b. Muhammad al-Mashhadi
  • Author

    Rumi (Mawlana Jalal al-Din Rumi) (1207-1273)
  • Description

    Manuscript; The fifth daftar (book) of Mathnavi by Rumi; Persian in black and red nasta'liq script; 44 folios with 1double-page frontispiece (fols. 1 verso- 2 recto) and 1 sarlawh (folio 2 verso), a dated colophon (folio 44 recto); inscriptions (fols. flyleaf, 1 recto, fol. 44 recto/ verso); seals (fols1 recto, and 44 recto/verso); standard page: 4 columns, 19 lines of text.
    Binding: The manuscript is bound in contemporary leather over paper pasteboards with gold block-stamped designs on the exterior covers and doublures of leather filigree over a multicolored paper ground punctuated with inlaid pieces of mica. The envelop flap has a surface and border identical to that on the upper and lower covers.
  • Marks

    Seal: fol.1 recto (square) Al-Mahdi is he whom you guide. [A.H.] 1260 [A.D. 1844-45].
    Stamps: flyleaf, International Exhibition of Persian Art, London 1931; endleaf, Chenue Em
    Stamps: flyleaf, International Exhibition of Persian Art, London 1931; endleaf, Chenue Em
  • Inscriptions

    Flyleaf: "fifth book of the Mathnawi."
    Folio 1 recto: (in red ink): " he who in the presence of his lordship."
    Folio 1 verso (on pishtaq architecture): "your residence is the qibla of the pure. The arch of your portico is the niche for prayer. "
    Fol. 44recto: "written by the poor sinful slave, in need of forgiveness of the One, Sultan-Ali b. Muhammad al-Mashhadi. May God forgive the sins and faults of him and his father. In the months of the year [A.H.] eight hundred and sixty-three [A.D. 1458-59]."
    Fol. 44 recto (in the margins): " in the year one thousand three hundred . . . and one of the hegira, the honored 22nd of Sha'ban, one thousand three hundred and twenty [A.D. November 24, 1902] [signature]."
    Folio 44 recto: "this description is written today as I am sitting in the Dar al-Khilafa of Tehran, today is the third of [Bahman] and also the auspicious 'id of Ghadir Khum, sitting in the presence of a number of noble men and speaking of [?] In short that the mighty God may he keep alive [?] Emam Shams [?] al-din Amir al-Mu'menin mazhar al-'aja'ib va mazhar [?]..."
    Front flyleaf: in pencil, " H. V. arxxx"
    Front flyleaf: in pencil, "48 rfsmxxx"
    Front flyleaf: in pencil, "H. Vever"
    Affixed to front flyleaf: square sticker, printed in black "International Exhibition of Persian Art, London, 1931" with "VV 10" written in black ink
    Affixed to front flyleaf: three round stickers, "4" written in black ink; "10" written in black ink; third sticker illegible
    Front flyleaf : written in pencil, "Ali - El - Meschedi" "daté 863" "2 miniatures XVIe siècle"
    Front flyleaf: written in pencil "V. bpcs npc"
    Front flyleaf: written in pencil, circled "36"
    Affixed to black flyleaf: oval sticker with scalloped edge; red border, printed in red Chenue Emballeur, 5 Rue de la Terrasse, Paris" in open area of sticker, "Mr. H. Vever" written in pencil
    Back flyleaf: written in pencil, "tspxx"
    Back flyleaf: written in pencil, "aihxx"
  • Provenance

    At least 1931-1942
    Henri Vever (1854-1942), method of acquisition unknown [1]
    Jeanne Louise Monthiers (1861-1947), bequest of Henri Vever [2]
    Francois Mautin (1907-2003), bequest of Jeanne Louise Monthiers and Henri Vever [3]
    From 1986
    Arthur M. Sackler Gallery purchased from Francois Mautin [4]
    [1] An accomplished French jeweler and collector, Henri Vever amassed a large collection of fine art. His collections of Japanese prints and Islamic manuscripts were widely respected, as Vever acquired pieces of exceptional quality and rarity. Intensely studying the visual aspects of Islamic art, loaning to exhibitions, and publishing on Islamic art, Vever quickly became one of the leading experts on Islamic painting and manuscripts. This work was in Vever's collection at the time of his death in 1942.
    It is unclear when and from whom Vever acquired this manuscript. Vever had this object by 1931, when it was published in René Grousset, "The Civilizations of the East" [book], trans. by Catherine Alison Phillips, vol. 1 (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1931), 273 and loaned to the London exhibition. This work was in Vever's collection at the time of his death in 1942.
    [2] Upon Henri Vever's death on September 25, 1942, his wife, Jeanne Louise Monthiers inherited the work. See exhibits F and G of Agreement of Purchase and Sale of the Henri Vever Collection, January 9, 1986, copy in object file.
    [3] Upon the death of Jeanne Louise Monthiers, as stipulated in the will of Henri Vever, the family's assets were divided evenly between his two grandchildren. His only grandson, Francois Mautin inherited the collection known as "The Henri Vever Collection of Oriental Art and Manuscripts Including Persian and Indian Art and Manuscripts." This object is part of that collection. See exhibits F and G as cited in note 2.
    [4] The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery purchased the entirety of the collection from Francois Mautin on January 9, 1986. See purchase agreement, copy in object file.
    Research completed June 23, 2022.
  • Collection

    Arthur M. Sackler Collection
  • Exhibition History

    Love and Yearning: Mystical and Moral Themes in Persian Painting (August 30, 2003 to February 22, 2004)
    Variations on a Script: Islamic Calligraphy from the Vever Collection (February 18 to September 16, 1990)
    A Jeweler's Eye: Islamic Arts of the Book from the Vever Collection (November 20, 1988 to April 30, 1989)
    Persian and Indian Painting - Selections from a Recent Acquisition (September 28, 1987 to February 28, 1988)
    International Exhibition of Persian Art (January 7 to March 7, 1931)
  • Previous custodian or owner

    Francois Mautin (1907-2003)
    Jeanne Louise Monthiers (1861-1947)
    Henri Vever (1854-1942)
  • Origin

    Herat (text), Afghanistan
    Tabriz (painting), Iran
  • Credit Line

    Purchase — Smithsonian Unrestricted Trust Funds, Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program, and Dr. Arthur M. Sackler
  • Type

  • Restrictions and Rights

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