Double folio from a Kitab-i hasha’ish (The book of herbs)

Historical period(s)
Reign of Ibrahim Adil Shah, Manuscript dated September 1595
Probably Bijapur Court
Deccani School
Opaque watercolor and ink on paper
H x W: 40 x 51 cm (15 3/4 x 20 1/16 in)
India, Deccan plateau, Karnataka state, Probably Bijapur
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Manuscript folio

botany, De Materia Medica, India, medicine, plant, WWII-era provenance
Provenance research underway.

This double folio is from a Persian translation of the Materia Medica known as the Kitab-i hasha'ish (Book of herbs). It has been attributed to the reign of Muhammad Adil Shah II (1580-1627), the ruler of the Bijapur in Deccan in India and one of the most learned patrons of the arts. The five illustrations represent plants believed to aid digestion and include several varieties of cucumber and watercress. Randomly arranged on the page and spilling into the margins, the illustrations are notable for their expressive and spontaneous treatment, found in few other herbals.

Published References
  • The Chester Beatty Library: A Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts and Miniatures. vol. III Dublin. cat. 273.
  • Barbara Schmitz. Islamic Manuscripts in the New York Public Library. New York. pp. 13-15, ill. 2.
  • Andrew Topsfield, Milo Cleveland Beach. Indian Paintings and Drawings from the Collection of Howard Hodgkin. pp. 32-3.
  • Terence McInerney. Indian Painting 1525-1825: An Exhibition. Exh. cat. London. cat. 17, p. 47.
  • Yuri A. Petrosyan. Pages of Perfection: Islamic Painting and Calligraphy from the Russian Academy of Sciences. Exh. cat. St. Petersburg. cat. 49, pp. 89-91,256-65.
  • Milo Cleveland Beach. The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court., 2nd ed. Washington and Ahmedabad, India, 2012. cat. 48, p. 177.
  • Thomas Lawton, Thomas W. Lentz. Beyond the Legacy: Anniversary Acquisitions for the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. vol. 1 Washington, 1998. pp. 184-85.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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