"Shaikh Mahneh and the Villager", Folio 49r from a Mantiq al-tair (Language of the Birds)
Farid al-Din `Attar (ca. 1142–1220)
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
present-day Afghanistan, Herat
Opaque watercolor, silver, and gold on paper
7 3/4 x 5 3/4in. (19.7 x 14.6cm)
Fletcher Fund, 1963
Not on view
This painting illustrates a story that stresses the importance of the quest (talab). The story is as follows: Shaikh Mahneh (Abu Sa'id Mihna'i, 967–1049), a famous shaikh of Khorasan, wandered in the wilderness in a state of depression. He saw a peasant in the distance cultivating wasteland with an ox-plow. The peasant emitted light. Shaikh Mahneh approached the peasant and told him of his painful condition. The peasant advised him to be patient and pursue the endless quest. This illustration depicts the conversation between the peasant and Shaikh Mahneh in the foreground. On the other hand, a group of men weighing melons and a dervish sleeping at the base of a tree have no connection to the text itself. The reason for the inclusion of this scene awaits further research.
Marking: Upper right & lower left;seal of Shah Abbas upper right;word "waqf"
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. 61, ill. fig. 27 (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. no. 154, p. 361.
Bahari, Ebadollah, and Annemarie Schimmel. Bihzad, Master of Persian Painting. London, New York: I.B.Tauris Publishers, 1996. pp. 91-93, fig. 44 (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. 321-322, ill. p. 322 (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. 3 (color).
Kamada, Yumiko. "An Illustrated Manuscript of Mantiq al-Tayr in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Orient vol. XLV (2010). pp. 140-141, 168, 173, ill. fig. 4.