Makhzan al-asrar (Treasury of secrets) by Haydar Khwarazmi (d.1414?)

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Maker(s)
Calligrapher: Mir Ali Haravi (died ca. 1550)
Historical period(s)
Safavid period, 1577-78 ? (985 A.H. ?)
Medium
Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Dimensions
H x W x D (closed): 33.1 x 21 x 2.1 cm (13 1/16 x 8 1/4 x 13/16 in)
Geography
Iran (present-day Afghanistan), Khurasan
Credit Line
Purchase — Smithsonian Unrestricted Trust Funds, Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program, and Dr. Arthur M. Sackler
Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
S1986.54
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Manuscript
Type

Manuscript

Keywords
Henri Vever collection, Iran, nasta'liq script, Safavid period (1501 - 1722), WWII-era provenance
Provenance

To 1908
Reza Khan Monif, Paris, France. [1]

From 1908 to 1942
Henri Vever (1854-1942), Paris and Noyers, France, purchased from Reza Khan Monif, Paris, France on April 9, 1908. [2]

From 1942 to 1986
Family member, Paris and Boulogne, France, by inheritance from Henri Vever, Paris and Noyers, France. [3]

From 1986
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, purchased from a family member, Paris and Boulogne, France. [4]

Notes:

[1] See Susan Nemazee, "Appendix 7: Chart of Recent Provenance" in An Annotated and Illustrated Checklist of the Vever Collection, Glenn D. Lowry et al (Washington, DC: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1988), p. 400. See also Glen D. Lowry and Susan Nemazee, "Appendix 2: Ledger of Acquisitions, 1894 and 1907-17" in A Jeweler’s Eye: Islamic Arts of the Book from the Vever Collection (Washington, DC: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1988), p. 229.

[2] See note 1.

[3] See the Agreement for the Purchase and Sale of the Henri Vever Collection of January 9, 1986, Collections Management Office.

[4] See note 3.

Previous Owner(s)

Reiza Khan Monif
Henri Vever 1854-1942
Francois Mautin French, born 1907

Label

Nizami's Makhzan al-asrar (Treasury of secrets) inspired the poet Mir Haydar Khawrazmi, active in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, to compose his own version of the didactic poem in Chagatay Turkish. In this illustration, the Ghaznavid ruler Sultan-Mahmud encounters a disheveled Sufi dervish (ascetic) in a ruin outside the city. Rather than rejoicing in the king's presence, the ascetic criticizes him for his pursuit of worldly riches and disregard for the afterlife. When Sultan-Mahmud asks the Sufi about his readiness for death, the old man smiles and drops dead in front of him.

Most illustrations of this anecdote focus on a slightly later and more visually dramatic moment in the narrative, when the dervish has already expired. Here, the artist has represented the philosophical and theological exchange between the two men.

Published References
  • Glenn D. Lowry, Susan Nemanzee. A Jeweler's Eye: Islamic Arts of the Book from the Vever Collection. Washington and Seattle. cat. 27, pp. 116-117.
  • Sabiha Al Khemir. Beauty and Belief: Crossing Bridges with the Arts of Islamic Culture. Exh. cat. Utah. pp. 130-131, p. 217.
  • Glenn D. Lowry, Milo Cleveland Beach, Elisabeth West FitzHugh, Susan Nemanzee, Janet Snyder. An Annotated and Illustrated Checklist of the Vever Collection. Washington and Seattle. cat. 167, pp. 133-135.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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