Ja'far Baisunghuri (active first half 15th century)
Nizami (Ilyas Abu Muhammad Nizam al-Din of Ganja) (probably 1141–1217)
dated A.H. 835/ A.D. 1431–32
present-day Afghanistan, Herat
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper; Mughal binding, probably of the 17th century, painted and lacquered
12 5/16 x 9in. (31.3 x 22.9cm)
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1994
Not on view
The renowned calligrapher Ja'far was the head of the royal workshop at the Timurid capital of Herat under the patronage of Prince Baisunghur, son of the ruler Shah Rukh and grandson of Timur, the dynasty's founder. The manuscript contains a dedication to Baisunghur and is signed and dated by Ja'far. Laila wa Majnun, written in 1188, is the third of the romantic epics of the Khamsa (Quintet) by one of the greatest and most influential of all Persian poets. It is the story of the love of two children in the Arabian desert and the heart-rending results of their forced separation: Majnun wanders through the desert singing of his love and longing, as the mystic longs for the union with God.
Signature: Colophon signed by Ja'far, "at Herat" and dated 835 A. H. (A.D. 1432)
Inscription: Location: The opening page and in bands in miniature. Style: Nasta'liq, naskha, and kufic Translation: The architectural inscriptions in Arabic on gold bands are translated as follows and are mainly in nashka script: Under the dome: The Prophet -may God pray for him and bless him- said: "Your welfare comes from your knowledge of the Qur'an, and its knowledge is veracity." Side wall: God...said: "And the mosque's are Allah's, so call not upon (anyone) with Allah" (LXXXII: 48). Minaret, upper band: Allah is the greatest. Minaret, lower band: The prayer is the pillar of religion. Niche in back wall, in kufic script: The reign is God's only. Over side door, in kufic script: The recollection of the encounter is upon...(?)
Marking: Calligraphed by Ja'far with dedication to Prince Baisunghur(d.1433)
Prince Baisunghur, Herat, present-day Afghanistan (1432–d. 1433); Ebadollah Bahari, London (1960s–1994; sold to MMA)
Petrosyan, Yuri A., Marie Lukens Swietochowski, Stefano Carboni, Oleg F. Akimushkin, Anas B. Khalidov, and Efim A. Rezvan. "Islamic Paintings and Calligraphy from the Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg." In Pages of Perfection. Lugano, Switzerland: Arch Foundation, 1995. p. 97, ill. fig. 5 (color).
Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin vol. 53, no. 2 (1994-1995). pp. 20-21, ill. p. 20 (color).
Bahari, Ebadollah, and Annemarie Schimmel. Bihzad, Master of Persian Painting. London, New York: I.B.Tauris Publishers, 1996. p. 27, ill. fig. 8 (color).