Rose and Nightingale (gul-u-bul-bul) Drawing

Object Name: Illustrated single work

Date: late 19th century

Geography: Attributed to Iran, possibly Shiraz

Medium: Ink and watercolor on paper

Dimensions: H. 21 7/16 in. (54.5 cm)
W. 16 15/16 in. (43 cm)
Mat: H. 25 1/2 (64.8 cm)
W.19 1/2 in. (49.5 cm)

Classification: Codices

Credit Line: Purchase, Elizabeth S. Ettinghausen Gift, in memory of Richard Ettinghausen, 1993

Accession Number: 1993.98


In this drawing, a rich assemblage of birds gather in the branches of a blossoming tree and a pair of partridges stand on the mound of earth below. The gul-o-bul-bul, or rose and nightingale, motif was employed in both Persian literature and painting. In poetry, the two stood in for the beloved and the loved, entwined in either an earthly or divine union. In art, the motif appeared on all types of objects, and during the Qajar period proliferated to the extent that it came practically to symbolize the country itself. It became especially popular among European collectors, who demanded goods and albums decorated with this motif. Shiraz, where this drawing might have been made, was an important center for the production of architectural tiles in this genre as well.