"A Ruffian Spares the Life of a Poor Man", Folio 4v from a Mantiq al-tair (Language of the Birds)
Farid al-Din `Attar (ca. 1142–1220)
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
Ink, opaque watercolor, silver, and gold on paper
Painting: H. 7 3/4 in. (19.7 cm)
W. 4 1/2 in. (11.4 cm)
Page: H. 12 7/8 in. (32.7 cm)
W. 8 5/16 in. (21.1 cm)
Mat: H. 19 1/4 in. (48.9 cm)
W. 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm)
Fletcher Fund, 1963
Not on view
This painting once formed part of a rare surviving illustrated copy of Farid al-Din 'Attar’s mystical poem, the Mantiq al-tair (Language of the Birds). Originally commissioned in the late fifteenth century, the manuscript was left unfinished, completed over a century later during the reign of the Safavid ruler Shah 'Abbas I (r. 1587–1629). Four new paintings were added at that time, including this seventeenth century illustration for the story of a ruffian who spares the life of a poor man.
Shah Abbas I, Isfahan, Iran (ca. 1600–1608; presented to Ardebil Shrine); Ardebil Shrine, Iran (ca. 1608–sack of Ardebil, 1826); M. Farid Parbanta(until 1963; sale, Sotheby's London,December 9, 1963, no. 111, to MMA)
Swietochowski, Marie. "The historical background and illustrative character of the Metropolitan Museum's Mantiq al-Tayr of 1483." In Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, edited by Richard Ettinghausen. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1972. p. 42, ill. fig. 1 (b/w).
Lentz, Thomas W., and Glenn D. Lowry. "Persian Art and Culture in the Fifteenth Century." In Timur and the Princely Vision. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1989. p. 290, ill. fig. 98 (b/w).
Lewisohn, Leonard, and Christopher Shackle, ed. "the art of spiritual flight." In Attar and the Persian Sufi Tradition. London; New York: The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2006. p. 164, ill. pl. 2 (color).
Melikian-Chirvani, Assadullah. "L'Art de l'Iran Safavide 1501–1736." In Le Chant du Monde. Paris: Musée du Louvre, 2007. no. 98, pp. 326-327, ill. p. 327 (color).
Kamada, Yumiko. "An Illustrated Manuscript of Mantiq al-Tayr in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Orient vol. XLV (2010). pp. 141-142, 169, 174, ill. fig. 5.