Folio from a Khamsa (Quintet) by Nizami (d.1209); The prophets Elias and Khadir at the fountain of life

Detached folio from a dispersed copy of a Khamsa (Qunitet) by Nizami; The prophet Elias and Khadir at the fountain of life, verses in Persian black nasta’liq script.
Border: The painting is set in gold, blue, and black rulings mounted on a gold-sprinkled, light-green paperboard.

Historical period(s)
Timurid period, late 15th century
Medium
Opaque watercolor and silver on paper
Dimensions
H x W: 15.7 x 13.4 cm (6 3/16 x 5 1/4 in)
Geography
Afghanistan, Herat
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1937.24
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Manuscript
Type

Manuscript folio

Keywords
Afghanistan, Elias, fountain, Khadir, prophet, Timurid period (1378 - 1506), WWII-era provenance
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Description

Detached folio from a dispersed copy of a Khamsa (Qunitet) by Nizami; The prophet Elias and Khadir at the fountain of life, verses in Persian black nasta'liq script.
Border: The painting is set in gold, blue, and black rulings mounted on a gold-sprinkled, light-green paperboard.

Inscription(s)

On the bottom page: shigifti nashud ke ab-i haywan-guhar / kunad mahi-i murda ra janawar
"It was no surprise that water of vital essence/ should bring to life a dead fish."

Label

The fifth poem of Nizami's Quintet relates the adventures of the Macedonian conqueror Alexander, known in Persian as Iskandar. One of the stories recounts Iskandar's search for the Fountain of Life in the Land of Darkness. According to Nizami, the prophets Khadir and Elias arrive at a fountain to have their meal of dried fish. When one of the fish falls into the water and comes to life, the seekers discover that they have realized their quest. The illustration conforms to later fifteenth-century style with its emphasis on finely rendered surfaces and restrained, idealized figures in the center of the composition.

Published References
  • Publication title unknown. vol. 4, no. 1, June 1935. fig. 1.
  • Dr. Esin Atil. Exhibition of 2500 Years of Persian Art. Exh. cat. Washington, 1971. cat. 25.
  • Armenag Sakisian. La Miniature Persane du XIIe au XVIIe siecle: Ouvrage accompagne de la reproduction de 193 miniatures dont deux en couleurs. Paris and Brussels. p. 82, pl. 1.
  • Laurence Binyon, J.V.S. Wilkinson, Basil Gray. Persian Miniature Painting: A Descriptive Catalogue of the Miniatures Exhibited at Burlington House, January-March 1931. Exh. cat. Oxford, January - March 1931. cat. 76, p. 95, pl. 61A.
  • Le Cantique des Oiseaux [The Conference of the Birds]. Paris. p. 111.
  • A.M. Kevorkian. Les Jardins du Desir: Sept Siecles de Peinture Persane. Paris. pp. 128-129.
  • Dr. Ananda K. Coomaraswamy. Khwaja Khadir and the Fountain of Life, in the Tradition of Persian and Mughal Art. vol. 1, pt. 2 Ann Arbor. pp. 177, 179, fig. 2.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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