"Alexander at a Banquet", Folio from a Khamsa (Quintet) of Nizami
Nizami (Ilyas Abu Muhammad Nizam al-Din of Ganja) (probably 1141–1217)
Sultan Muhammad Nur (ca. 1472–ca. 1536)
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
dated A.H. 931/A.D. 1524–25
present-day Afghanistan, Herat
Ink, opaque watercolor, silver, and gold on paper
Painting: H. 6 11/16 in. (17 cm)
W. 4 1/2 in. (11.5 cm)
Page: H. 12 1/2 (31.7 cm)
W. 8 3/4 in. (22.2 cm)
Mat: H. 19 1/4 in. (48.9 cm)
W. 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm)
Gift of Alexander Smith Cochran, 1913
Not on view
The Khamsa of Nizami, written between 1298 and 1302, is a canonical work of Persian literature. One of the five poems within it tells the story of Alexander the Great, who is identified as the half-brother of the Persian king Darab in various histories. By presenting Alexander in this manner, the audience was able to identify with its ancestors’ conqueror. Although the story took place in the fourth century BC, the objects that appear in this feast (bazm) scene provide an insight into the types of luxury objects and musical instruments that were in use at the time that the manuscript was produced. The figures wear their turbans in the style typical of Safavid Iran, with twelve folds wrapped around a baton to symbolize the twelve Shi’i imams.
F. R. Martin, Sweden; Alexander Smith Cochran, Yonkers, NY (until 1913; gifted to MMA)
Musée du Louvre. "La Dynastie Safavide," October 1, 2007–January 7, 2008.
Valentiner, William Reinhold. "The Cochran Collection of Persian Manuscripts." Museum of Metropolitan Art Bulletin, old series, vol. 8 (1913). pp. 80-86, ill. p. 85 (b/w).
Dimand, Maurice S. A Handbook of Muhammadan Art. 2nd rev. and enl. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1944. p. 48, fig. 25 (b/w).
Robinson, Basil William. "Drawings of the Masters." In Persian Drawings from the 14th through the 19th century. Boston and Toronto: Shorewood Publishers Inc., 1965. pp. 63, 133, ill. plate 31 (b/w), folio 321b.
Grube, Ernst J. "The Early School of Herat and its Impact on Islamic Painting of the Later 15th, the 16th and 17th Centuries." In The Classical Style in Islamic Painting. Venice: Edizioni Oriens, 1968. ill. pl. 65 (b/w).
Brend, Barbara. "Illustrations to Amir Khusrau's Khamsa." In Perspectives on Persian Painting. New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003. p. 190.
Melikian-Chirvani, Assadullah. "L'Art de l'Iran Safavide 1501–1736." In Le Chant du Monde. Paris: Musée du Louvre, 2007. no. 16, pp. 180-181, ill. fol. 321v.
Artist: Nizami (Ilyas Abu Muhammad Nizam al-Din of Ganja) (probably 1141–1217)Date: ca. 1625–30Medium: Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on unpolished paperAccession: 1982.476.1a, bOn view in:Not on view