Mantiq al-tair (Language of the Birds)

Calligrapher: Sultan `Ali Mashhadi (ca.1440–1520)

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

Object Name: Illustrated manuscript

Date: ca. 1600

Geography: Attributed to Iran, Isfahan

Medium: Opaque watercolor and gold on paper

Dimensions: H. 12 7/8 in. (32.7 cm)
W. 8 5/16 in. (21.1 cm)

Classification: Codices

Credit Line: Fletcher Fund, 1963

Accession Number: 63.210


This lavishly illuminated double-page frontispiece contains the first twenty lines of prayers. The text areas are enclosed by four large panels that contain the title of the book, Mantiq al-Tayr, and the author's name, Farid al-Din 'Attar, in the middle cartouche. A minute inscription at the edge of these panels says that it was made by a famous illuminator and painter, Zayn al-'Abidin, in Isfahan by the order of Shah 'Abbas. There are another four vertical panels filled with serrated leaves next to the text area. These panels are surrounded by a meticulously arranged lobed band that shows a harmonious combination of gold, blue, light green, orange, pink, and white.