Illuminated Frontipiece of a Manuscript of the Mantiq al-tair (Language of the Birds)
Sultan 'Ali al-Mashhadi (active late 15th–early 16th century)
Zain al-'Abidin al-Tabrizi
Farid al-Din `Attar (ca. 1142–1220)
text: dated A.H. 892/ A.D. 1487; illumination: ca. 1600
present-day Afghanistan, Herat; Iran, Isfahan
Ink, opaque watercolor, silver, and gold on paper
7.75 in. high 4.50 in. wide (19.7 cm high 11.4 cm wide)
Fletcher Fund, 1963
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 455
Text block of the Mantiq al‑Tair, along with its elegant binding. While the colophon of the main text is dated to 1487, the manuscript was completed after coming into the possession of the Safavid ruler Shah 'Abbas I (r. 1587–1629). During his reign, four paintings were added, along with illuminated folios, marbled‑paper margins, and an elaborate gilded binding.
Signature: Signed and dated in colophon: Sultan Ali of Mashhad, A.H. 892 (1487 A.D.)
Inscription: In Persian in nastaʻliq script
Attar, Manṭiq al-Ṭayr منطق الطیر story گفتار بو علي طوسي دربارۀ اهل جنت و اهل دوزخ (The story of Bū ‘Alī Ṭūsī regarding people of paradise and people of hell) and story حکایت مردي که از نبي اجازۀ نماز بر مصلایي گرفت (the story of a man who got permission from the Prophet to pray in a special place of prayer).
In the published Manṭiq al-Ṭayr, the second story came first then the first story.
(Farīd al-Dīn ‘Aṭṭār, Munṭiq al-Ṭayr, ed. Sayyid Ṣādiq Guharīn, Bungāh Tarjama va Nashr-i Kitāb publication, Tehran, 1342/1959, p.178).
Marking: Seal (affixed throughout the manuscript): Shah Abbas
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)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Balcony Calligraphy Exhibition," June 1, 2009–October 26, 2009.
Ekhtiar, Maryam, Sheila R. Canby, Navina Haidar, and Priscilla P. Soucek, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 127A, pp. 188-190, ill. p. 189 (color).
Landau, Amy S. "Artists, Patrons, and Poets at the Great Islamic Courts." In Pearls on a String. Baltimore: Walters Art Museum, 2015. p. 126-127, ill. fig. 4.7 (color).