Though illustrated manuscripts on religious subjects had long existed in Iran, during the Qajar period there was a marked surge in manuscript production and large-scale religious paintings. This leaf from an unidentified manuscript is one example of the nineteenth-century flowering in devotional literature. It depicts the story of Salman, the Zoroastrian who, unconvinced by his own faith, converted first to Christianity and then to Islam. The scene depicted here shows his meeting with Muhammad after his wanderings had taken him to the city of Yathrib (Medina). Salman, standing to the Prophet's left, appears in the reception room of the house where Muhammad is staying, along with 'Ali (the figure kneeling on Muhammad's right, carrying the Dhu'l Fiqar) and other companions. Above, angels rain down heavenly fire on the gathering. It is possible that this leaf comes from a manuscript of the Khavarannama, a text detailing the life of 'Ali.
Adrienne Minassian, New York (until d. 1994; bequeathed to MMA)