Velvet Fragment with Design from Nizami's Khusrau and Shirin
Silk; cut velvet
Textile: L. 15 3/8 in. (39 cm)
W. 6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm)
Mount: L. 20 in. (50.8 cm)
W. 11 1/2 in. (29.2 cm)
D. 3/4 in. (1.9 cm)
Wt. 4 lbs. (1.8 kg)
Purchase, The Seley Foundation Inc., Schimmel Foundation Inc., Ruth Blumka and Charles D. Kelekian Gifts, and Rogers Fund, 1978
Not on view
This delicately woven silk velvet depicts the love story "Khusrau and Shirin" by the Persian poet Nizami (d. 1209). The Sasanian king Khusrau has become smitten with the Armenian princess Shirin based on a portrait delivered to him at court. Impatient to see his future bride in person, he ventures from Iran to Armenia as she is simultaneously being brought to him, and the two unexpectedly cross paths while Shirin is bathing in a stream. Larger fragments of the same velvet retaining the full design repeat show Khusrau, in full Safavid courtier dress, seated on horseback looking on at Shirin in wonder. Except for a red cloth around her waist, Shirin's clothes hang from a nearby tree. The black silk used in the areas of Shirin's hair and the tree branches has oxidized, and only the foundation fabric remains.
Dikran G. Kelekian, New York (late 1920s–d. 1951); [his son, Charles Dikran Kelekian, New York, 1951–78; sold to MMA]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Annual Report (1977). p. 47.