The Traveler’s Rescue by the Great Bird (al-Ta’ir al-Kabir), from Aja’ib al-makhluqat (Wonders of Creation) by al-Qazvini

Maker(s)
Author: Muhammad al-Qazvini (ca. 1203-1283)
Historical period(s)
Aq Qoyunlu dynasty, Turkmen period, early 15th century
Medium
Opaque watercolor, ink and gold on paper
Dimensions
H x W: 32.7 x 22.4 cm (12 7/8 x 8 13/16 in)
Geography
Iraq or Eastern Turkey
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
F1954.63
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Manuscript
Type

Detached manuscript folio

Keywords
bird, Iraq, naskh script, Turkey, Turkmen period (1378 - 1508), Wonders of Creation, WWII-era provenance
Provenance

To 1945
Friedrich Paul Theodor Sarre (1865-1945). [1]

To 1954
Mme. Maria Louise Sarre, Ascona, Switzerland. [2]

From 1954
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Dr. Paul Kempner, New York on behalf of Mme. Maria Louise Sarre, Ascona, Switzerland. [3]

Notes:

[1] Object file F1954.33-114, undated folder sheet note 2. “The manuscript was originally acquired by Prof. Friedrich Sarre in Algiers”.

[2] Object file F1954.33-114, undated folder sheet note 1. See also Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List after 1920 file, Collections Management Office.

[3] See note 2. See also invoice dated July 22, 1954 and correspondences between Dr. Paul Kempner and the Freer Gallery, dated July 21, 1954; copies in object file.

Previous Owner(s)

Mme. Maria Louise Sarre
Friedrich Paul Theodor Sarre

Label

In describing the wonders of the Persian sea, al-Qazwini relates a well-known sailor's tale that also occurs in the Voyage of Sinbad in the celebrated Arabian Nights. According to the story, a debt-burdened man from the city of Isfahan takes to the sea with a group of merchants. During his voyage, his ship is caught in a whirlpool, and the captain announces that one person needs to sacrifice himself to save the others. The Isfahani volunteers on the condition that his fellow travelers pay his debts. They consent, and the man in left on an island inhabited by a large, white bird, who flies in every night and leaves again the next morning. One day, the Isfahani decides to try and leave the island. He grabs the legs of the bird, who carries him across the sea and drops him off in the middle of a village. The villagers are so astonished and impressed that they richly reward the Isfahani. After some time, the Isfahani finds his fellow travelers and recounts his miraculous escape from the island, attributing it to divine intervention.

Drawing on the most dramatic moment in the story, the painting shows the terrified turbaned figure, firmly clasping the legs of the white bird as it carries him through the air.

Published References
  • Barbara Schmitz. Islamic Manuscripts in the New York Public Library. New York. .
  • Julie Badiee. The Sarre Qazwini: An Early Aq Qoyunlu Manuscript? vol. 14 Washington and Ann Arbor. .
  • Ferdinand Wustenfeld. Zakarija ben Muhammed ben Mahmud el-Cazwini's Kosmographie. 2 vols., Gottingen, 1848-1849. .
  • Julie Badiee. An Islamic Cosmography: The Illustrations of the Sarre Qazwini. Ann Arbor. .
  • Ernst Kuhnel. Islamische Kleinkunst: ein Handbuch fur Sammler and Liebhaber. Bibliothek fur Kunst, 2nd ed. Braunschweig, Germany. .
  • Richard Ettinghausen. Arab Painting. Treasures of Asia Geneva. .
  • Richard Ettinghausen Grace Dunham Guest. The Iconography of a Kashan Luster Plate. vol. 4 Washington and Ann Arbor. .
  • Ernst Diez. Die Kunst der Islamischen Volker. Handbuch der Kunstwissenschaft Berlin. .
  • Emile Dermenghem. Mahomet et la Tradition Islamique. Bourges, France. .
  • Richard Ettinghausen. Studies in Muslim Iconography I: The Unicorn. vol. 1, no. 3 Washington. .
  • Fritz Saxl. Beitrage zu einer Geschichte der Planeten darstellung im Orient und Okzident. vol. 3 Berlin. .
  • F. Taeschner. Die Psychologie des Kazwini. Kiel. .
  • Encyclopedia of Islam., New Edition. Leiden. .
  • Richard Ettinghausen Ernst Kuhnel. A Survey of Persian Art from Prehistoric Times to the Present. 6 vols., London and New York, 1938 - 1939. .
  • Ivan Stchoukine. Les Peintures des Manuscrits Timurides. Bibliothèque archéologique et historique Paris. .
  • Catalogue of the International Exhibition of Persian Art. Exh. cat. London. .
  • Friedrich Paul Theodor Sarre Mme. Maria Louise Sarre. Katalog der Austellung im Stadelschen Kunstinstitut. Frankfurt am Main. .
  • Lawrence 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. .
  • Sir Thomas W. Arnold. Painting in Islam: A Study of the Place of Pictoral Art in Muslim Culture. Oxford. .
  • Philipp Walter Schulz. Die Persisch-Islamische Miniaturmalerei: Ein Beitrag zur Kunstgeschichte Irans. 2 vols, Leipzig. .
  • Ernst Kuhnel. Miniaturmalerei im Islamischen Orient. Die Kunst des Ostens Berlin. .
  • Friedrich Paul Theodor Sarre Fredrik Robert Martin. Die Ausstellung von Meisterwerken Muhammedanischer Kunst in Muchen, 1910. 3 vols., Munich. .
  • Fredrik Robert Martin. The Miniature Painting and Painters of Persia, India, and Turkey from the 8th to the 18th Century. 2 vols., London. .
  • Classiques Arabes. 7 vols., Beyrouth, Liban, Lebanon. p. 12.
  • Dr. Esin Atil. Art of the Arab World. Exh. cat. Washington, 1975. cat. 64, p. 125.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum