"Shaikh San'an and the Christian Maiden", Folio 22v from a Mantiq al-Tair (Language of the Birds)
Farid al-Din `Attar (ca. 1142–1220)
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
Opaque watercolor, silver, and gold on paper
Painting: H. 7 3/8 in. (18.7 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
In another tale from the Mantiq al-tair, a sufi shaikh falls in love with a Christian maiden, who subjects him to many demeaning tasks to test his affections. When his followers finally convince the shaikh to leave, the maiden—realizing the error of her ways—sets off on the arduous path after him. This painting depicts the moment in the story where the shaikh, deciding to return to her, instead discovers her collapsed along the road. With her dying breath she apologizes, converts to Islam, and bids him farewell, while his astonished disciples look on.
Marking: Word "waqf" written across upper center.
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. 52, ill. fig. 14 (b/w).
Kamada, Yumiko. "An Illustrated Manuscript of Mantiq al-Tayr in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Orient vol. XLV (2010). pp. 144, 172, ill. fig. 8.