"The Concourse of the Birds", Folio 11r from a Mantiq al-tair (Language of the Birds)

Artist: Painting by Habiballah of Sava (active ca. 1590–1610)

Author: Farid al-Din `Attar (ca. 1142–1220)

Object Name: Folio from an illustrated manuscript

Date: ca. 1600

Geography: Attributed to Iran, Isfahan

Culture: Islamic

Medium: Ink, opaque watercolor, gold, and silver on paper

Dimensions: Painting: H. 10 in. (25.4 cm)
W. 4 1/2in. (11.4cm)
Page: H. 13 in. (33 cm)
W. 8 3/16 in. (20.8 cm)
Mat: H. 19 1/4 in. (48.9 cm)
W. 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm)

Classification: Codices

Credit Line: Fletcher Fund, 1963

Accession Number: 63.210.11


The text on this folio pertains to the hoopoe's speech in which he proposes that the birds set out on a journey to find the Simurgh. In this illustration, the birds have assembled and listen to the hoopoe at the middle right. A stone next to a stream contains the signature of the Safavid painter, Habiballah. A man with a matchlock, which is irrelevant to the story, was a popular motif at that time. In contrast, the tree with a snake climbing toward a bird's nest may have been inspired by the same motif on Timurid folio 35r. The motif of goats on a mountain is also typical of Timurid paintings. Probably Habiballah used these Timurid motifs to visually align the additional Safavid illustrations to the original Timurid pages.