"The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus Discovered by Alexander the Great", Folio from a Falnama (Book of Omens)
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Painting: H. 23 in. (58.4 cm)
W. 17 3/4 in. (45.1 cm)
Mat : H. 28 in. (71.1 cm)
W. 22 in. (55.9 cm)
Frame: H. 30 1/2 in. (77.5 cm)
W. 24 1/2 in. (62.2 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1935
Not on view
This folio depicts seven Christian men, also known as the Seven Sleepers, along with their dog Qitmir, who escaped the Roman emperor Decius (r. A.D. 249–51) by miraculously sleeping in a cave for 309 years. The contrasts between the dark cave and the colorful rocks, the commotion outside, and the peaceful sleepers inside reinforce the narrative. The emperor is shown on a white horse, led by Satan, depicted here with dark skin and a white beard. The exceptional size of this manuscript may have been due to groups of people using the book to make predictions, or to Shah Tahmasp’s weakening eyesight.
Demotte, Inc., New York, by 1930–35; cat., 1930, no. 69, sold to MMA]
"Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York." In The Arts of Islam. Berlin, 1981. no. 78, pp. 194-195, ill. p. 195 (color).
Tokatlian, Armen. Falnamah: Livre Royal des Sorts. Paris: Gourcuff Gradenigo, 2007. no. 15, pp. 42, 43, ill. (color).
Farhad, Massumeh, and Serpil Bagci. "Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery." In Falnama: The Book of Omens. Washington, D.C.: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 2009. no. 42, pp. 160-161, ill. (color).
Ekhtiar, Maryam, Sheila R. Canby, Navina Haidar, and Priscilla P. Soucek, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 139B, pp. 209-211, ill. p. 211 (color).