Folio from a Divan (collected poems) by Hafiz (d. 1390); recto: a polo game; verso: text, poem on qualities of the beloved and transience of life

Detached folio from a bound copy of Divan (collected poems) by Hafiz (F1932.45) with selections from the work of Ibn Yamin, Omar Khayyam, and Nizami in the margins; text: Persian in black nasta’liq script; recto: illustration and text: A polo game, verso: text: two columns, 12 lines and marginal verses; one of a group of 9 detached folios (F 1932.46-54) from the bound manuscript (F 1932.45); accessioned separately.
Border: The painting and the text are set in gold, black, and blue rulings on cream-colored paper.

Maker(s)
Artist: Shaykhzade
Calligrapher: Sultan Muhammad Nur
Historical period(s)
Safavid period, 1523-24 (930 A.H.)
Medium
Opaque watercolor, ink and gold on paper
Dimensions
H x W (overall): 29.6 x 18.6 cm (11 5/8 x 7 5/16 in)
Geography
Afghanistan, Herat
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1932.49
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Manuscript
Type

Manuscript folio

Keywords
Afghanistan, polo, prince, Safavid period (1501 - 1722), sport
Provenance

To 1931
Claude Anet (1868-1931), Paris to 1931 [1]

1932
Hagop Kevorkian (1872-1962), acquired in Paris, March 21, 1932 [2]

From 1932
Freer Gallery of Art, puchased from Hagop Kevorkian in 1932 [3]

Notes:

[1] Object file, folder sheet note.

[2] See Hagop Kevorkian's letter to Mr. Lodge, dated March 25, 1932 Paris, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[3] Object file, undated folder sheet note. See also Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List file, Collections Management Office.

Previous Owner(s)

Claude Anet 1868-1931
Hagop Kevorkian 1872-1962

Description

Detached folio from a bound copy of Divan (collected poems) by Hafiz (F1932.45) with selections from the work of Ibn Yamin, Omar Khayyam, and Nizami in the margins; text: Persian in black nasta'liq script; recto: illustration and text: A polo game, verso: text: two columns, 12 lines and marginal verses; one of a group of 9 detached folios (F 1932.46-54) from the bound manuscript (F 1932.45); accessioned separately.
Border: The painting and the text are set in gold, black, and blue rulings on cream-colored paper.

Label

The game of polo reputedly originated in Iran and, like hunting, represents one of the foremost royal pastimes. It also became a popular subject matter for poets and painters, who have used the sport and its equipment, including the mallet, ball, and playing field, as metaphors for human skill and prowess as well as the vagaries of life. In the accompanying verses, for instance, the poet has compared the polo ball to the universe that rests in the curve of the polo stick on the playing field of eternity. While this painting from an early sixteenth-century copy of the Divan (collected poems) by the mystic poet Hafiz can be viewed as a literal illustration of a lively polo match, it also lends itself to other interpretations. The hidden faces in the rocky outcrops, for instance, may be reminding the viewer of the revealed and concealed nature of the universe.

Published References
  • Auctions. vol. 36, no. 207 London, June 1920. pp. 307, 316.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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