Illuminated Opening Page Titled Laila and Majnun from Khamsa (Quintet) of Nizami
Ja'far Baisunghuri (active first half 15th century)
Nizami (Ilyas Abu Muhammad Nizam al-Din of Ganja) (probably 1141–1217)
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
dated A.H. 835/ A.D. 1431–32
present-day Afghanistan, Herat
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Page: H. 12 5/16 in. (31.3 cm)
W. 9 in. (22.9cm)
Mat: H. 19 1/4 in. (48.9 cm)
W. 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm)
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1994
Not on view
In fine Persian manuscripts it was customary to surround the first two pages of the text with illuminated decoration. In this period a very fine blue made from lapis lazuli (a rich source of which was found in Afghanistan, where the city of Herat is now located), in conjunction with gold, was the dominant color. Other colors were used sparingly but with an artistry that greatly enriched the overall effect. Amongst the decorative devices arabesques, floral scrolls, and palmette scrolls predominate. Framing bands and panels with cartouches, as seen here, are characteristic. The flawless quality of the illumination in this manuscript suggests that it might be by the hand of Khalil, a favorite painter of Baisunghur who worked in the royal kitabkhana.
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: 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)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Princely Patrons: Three Royal Manuscripts of the Timurid Dynasty," March 4, 1995–June 4, 1995.
Artist: Ja'far Baisunghuri (active first half 15th century)Date: dated A.H. 835/ A.D. 1431–32Medium: Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper; Mughal binding, probably of the 17th century, painted and lacqueredAccession: 1994.232.1On view in:Not on view