Folio from a Sulwan al-Muta (Solace of pleasure) by Ibn Zafar; recto: text; verso: illustration: The bear and the monkeys

Folio from a dispersed copy of Sulwan al-muta (Solace of pleasure) by Ibn Zafar; text: Arabic in black naskh script; recto: text: 13 lines; verso: illustration and text: The bear and the monkeys, 3 lines, one of a group of 2 folios.

Maker(s)
Author: ibn Zafar
Historical period(s)
Mamluk period, ca. 1335
Medium
Opaque watercolor, ink and gold on paper
Dimensions
H x W: 24.9 x 17.6 cm (9 13/16 x 6 15/16 in)
Geography
Probably Egypt
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1954.2
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Manuscript
Type

Manuscript folio

Keywords
bear, Egypt, Mamluk period (1250 - 1517), monkey, naskh script, tree, WWII-era provenance
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Description

Folio from a dispersed copy of Sulwan al-muta (Solace of pleasure) by Ibn Zafar; text: Arabic in black naskh script; recto: text: 13 lines; verso: illustration and text: The bear and the monkeys, 3 lines, one of a group of 2 folios.

Inscription(s)

Verso: "waqf" (endowment)

Label

Ibn Zafar, a native of Sicily, composed the Sulwan al-Muta (Solace of pleasure) in the twelfth century. The text belongs to the popular genre of animal fables, intended as moral and ethical guides for the ruling elite. Such accounts were often referred to as "mirror of princes." In this illustration, a bear has taken his friend--a monkey with failing eyesight--to the monkey-doctor, known for his malice and meanness. Rather than showing compassion toward his ailing visitor, the monkey-physician makes his patient climb a tree in order to be examined. The illustration deftly captures the subtle psychological interaction of the protagonists: under the watchful eye of the bear, the gray monkey hesitantly approaches the physician, who is comfortably perched on a branch.

Published References
  • Dr. Esin Atil. Art of the Arab World. Exh. cat. Washington, 1975. cat. 54, p. 114.
  • Muhammad Husayn. Origins of the Book: Egypt's Contribution to the Development of the Book from Papyrus to Codex. Greenwich, Connecticut. p. 124.
  • Richard Ettinghausen. Arab Painting. Treasures of Asia Geneva. p. 141.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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