Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Futuh al-Haramayn (Description of the Holy Cities)

Muhi al-Din Lari
Object Name:
Illustrated manuscript
16th century
Country of Origin present-day Uzbekistan, probably Bukhara
Ink, opaque watercolor, gold on paper
9 7/16 x 6 1/2 in. (24 x 16.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Patti Cadby Birch Gift, 2009
Accession Number:
Not on view
The Futuh al-Haramayn explains the rituals of the pilgrimage (hajj) all Muslims must complete once during their lifetime and describes the holy sites they can visit in the cities of Mecca and Medina. The text was written by Muhi al-Din Lari, completed in India in 1505–6, and copied many times afterward with a standard set of illustrations—bird's-eye views of the monuments and sites with labels for the reader. Most known copies were made in Mecca during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but the book was also popular in Turkey and India. This is the first copy thought to have been made in Bukhara.
All copies of the Futuh al-Haramayn include a painting of the Kaaba, the monument at Mecca to which all Muslims pray, shown here as the black-shrouded rectangular structure at the center of the domed arcade representing the sacred enclosure called al-masjid al-haram. Two details indicate that the manuscript must have been painted in the late sixteenth century: the first gate into the enclosure is labeled "blocked" (sadda), thus reflecting the closing of this gate sometime between 1569 and 1573, and there are seven minarets, thus including the one added by the Ottoman sultan Suleyman in 1565–66.
Private collection, England; Farah Hakemi, London (until 2002; sold to Fogg); [ Sam Fogg, London, 2002–9; sold to MMA]
"A Selection: 2008–2010." Recent Acquisitions vol. 68, no. 2 (Fall 2010). p. 25.

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