Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Mantiq al-tair (Language of the Birds)

Sultan `Ali Mashhadi (ca.1440–1520)
Farid al-Din `Attar (ca. 1142–1220)
Object Name:
Illustrated manuscript
ca. 1600
Attributed to Iran, Isfahan
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
H. 12 7/8 in. (32.7 cm)
W. 8 5/16 in. (21.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Fletcher Fund, 1963
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 455
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.
Inscription: Definition: Persian
Translation: To the order of the treasury of the High Nawab, Shah Abbas Bahadur Khan, written by Zayn al-'Abadin the illuminator of Tabriz at the capital Isfahan.
Notes: Page added during time of Shah Abbas, ca. 1600.

Marking: Signed and inscribed.
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)
Brend, Barbara. "Illustrations to Amir Khusrau's Khamsa." In Perspectives on Persian Painting. New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003. pp. 169, 171, 186-187.

Haidar, Navina. "Visual Splendour: Embellished Pages from the Metropolitan Museum 's Collection of Islamic and Indian Manuscripts." Arts of Asia vol. 42 (2012). pp. 112-113, ill. figs. 10, 11.

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