"A Ruffian Spares the Life of a Poor Man", Folio 4v from a Mantiq al-tair (Language of the Birds), Farid al-Din `Attar (ca. 1142–1220), Ink, opaque watercolor, silver, and gold on paper

"A Ruffian Spares the Life of a Poor Man", Folio 4v from a Mantiq al-tair (Language of the Birds)

Farid al-Din `Attar (ca. 1142–1220)
Object Name:
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
ca. 1600
Made in Iran, Isfahan
Ink, opaque watercolor, silver, and gold on paper
Painting: H. 7 3/4 in. (19.7 cm)
W. 4 1/2 in. (11.4 cm)
Page: H. 12 7/8 in. (32.7 cm)
W. 8 5/16 in. (21.1 cm)
Mat: H. 19 1/4 in. (48.9 cm)
W. 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Fletcher Fund, 1963
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 455
This painting once formed part of a rare surviving illustrated copy of Farid al-Din 'Attar’s mystical poem, the Mantiq al-tair (Language of the Birds). Originally commissioned in the late fifteenth century, the manuscript was left unfinished, completed over a century later during the reign of the Safavid ruler Shah 'Abbas I (r. 1587–1629). Four new paintings were added at that time, including this seventeenth century illustration for the story of a ruffian who spares the life of a poor man.
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. "Princely Patrons: Three Royal Manuscripts of the Timurid Dynasty," March 4, 1995–June 4, 1995, no catalogue.

Musée du Louvre. "La Dynastie Safavide," October 1, 2007–January 7, 2008, no. 98.

Swietochowski, Marie. "The historical background and illustrative character of the Metropolitan Museum's Mantiq al-Tayr of 1483." In Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, edited by Richard Ettinghausen. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1972. p. 42, ill. fig. 1 (b/w).

Lentz, Thomas W., and Glenn D. Lowry. "Persian Art and Culture in the Fifteenth Century." In Timur and the Princely Vision. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1989. p. 290, ill. fig. 98 (b/w).

Lewisohn, Leonard, and Christopher Shackle, ed. "the art of spiritual flight." In Attar and the Persian Sufi Tradition. London; New York: The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2006. p. 164, ill. pl. 2 (color).

Melikian-Chirvani, Assadullah. "L'Art de l'Iran Safavide 1501–1736." In Le Chant du Monde. Paris: Musée du Louvre, 2007. no. 98, pp. 326-327, ill. p. 327 (color).

Kamada, Yumiko. "An Illustrated Manuscript of Mantiq al-Tayr in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Orient vol. XLV (2010). pp. 141-142, 169, 174, ill. fig. 5.