"The Anecdote of the Man Who Fell into the Water", Folio 44r from a Mantiq al-tair (Language of the Birds)
Sultan 'Ali al-Mashhadi (active late 15th–early 16th century)
Farid al-Din `Attar (ca. 1142–1220)
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
dated A.H. 892/A.D. 1487
present-day Afghanistan, Herat
Opaque watercolor, silver, and gold on paper
Painting: H. 7 3/8 in. (18.7 cm)
W. 5 1/8in. (13cm)
Page: H. 13 in. (33 cm)
W. 8 7/16 in. (21.4 cm)
Mat: H. 19 1/4 in. (48.9 cm)
W. 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm)
Fletcher Fund, 1963
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 455
This painting from Attar’s Mantiq al‑Tair illustrates the parable told by the hoopoe in which a man’s pride in his exceptionally long beard causes him to drown in the sea—teaching that pride in worldly attachments will eventually bring one to ruin. The prominent, but seemingly unrelated, image of a man gathering firewood in the foreground has been interpreted as a visual pun embodying mystical significance. Some scholars see it as a metaphor for a breathing meditation practice followed by Sufi adherents that produces a sound akin to sawing wood.
Inscription: In Persian in nasta‘liq script
Attar, Manṭiq al-Ṭayr منطق الطیر story حکایت ابلهی که در آب افتاد و ریش بزرگش و بال او بود (story of an ignorant man who fell in the water and was saved by his beard).
(Farīd al-Dīn ‘Aṭṭār, Manṭiq al-Ṭayr, ed. Sayyid Ṣādiq Gawharīn, Bungāh Tarjama va Nashr-i Kitāb , ehran, 1342/1959, p.166).
Marking: Upper left; seal of Shah Abbas upper right; word "waqf" upper left.
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)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Princely Patrons: Three Royal Manuscripts of the Timurid Dynasty," March 4, 1995–June 4, 1995.
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. 35 (b/w).
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. 59, ill. fig. 23 (b/w).
Bahari, Ebadollah, and Annemarie Schimmel. Bihzad, Master of Persian Painting. London, New York: I.B.Tauris Publishers, 1996. pp. 89-90, fig. 43 (color).
Canby, Sheila R. "The Drawings and Paintings of Riza-Yi Abbasi of Isfahan." In The Rebellious Reformer of Isfahan
. London: Azimuth Editions, 1996. p. 235, ill. fig. 28 (b/w).
Grabar, Oleg. Mostly Miniatures: An introduction to Persian painting. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000. p. 112, ill. fig. 59 (color).
Barry, Mike, and Stuart Cary Welch. "et l'Enigme de Behzad de Herat (1465–1535)." In L'Art Figuratif en Islam Medieval. Paris: Flammarion, 2004. pp. 344-345, ill. p. 345 (color).
Kia, Chad. "Is the Bearded Man Drowning? Picturing the Figurative in a Late-Fifteenth-Century Painting from Herat." Muqarnas vol. 23 (2006). pp. 85-105, ill. fig.1 (color), folio 44r.
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. 9 (color).
Kamada, Yumiko. "An Illustrated Manuscript of Mantiq al-Tayr in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Orient vol. XLV (2010). pp. 137-140, 167, 173, ill. fig. 3.
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. 127C, pp. 188-190, ill. p. 189 (color).
Artist: Sultan 'Ali al-Mashhadi (active late 15th–early 16th century)Date: text: dated A.H. 892/ A.D. 1487; illumination: ca. 1600Medium: Ink, opaque watercolor, silver, and gold on paperAccession: 63.210.1On view in:Gallery 455