Three miniatures from a Khamsa. Folio, 3 ff., paper, ca. 28.5 x 18.5 cm. Three loose ff. with miniatures taken from a Khamsa ("Quintet"), five epic poems in "mathnawi" form (that is, in rhymed couplets), of the renowned Persian Poet Nezâmi Ganjawi (ca. 1141-1209), executed in the Safavid period. 1. The first folio, containing the end of the first of the five poems, Makhzan al-asrâr ("The Treasury of Secrets"), includes a colophon with the date Tuesday 11 Shawwāl 1084 = Monday, June 30, 1673 (not 1665, as was added in pencil at the bottom of the page), the text is in four col. separated each time by two fine golden lines, and encircled by a frame in gold, blue and red. It is written in well-readable "nasta 'līq" script, with captions in red. Below the colophon is a simple miniature of three pink carnations. The miniature on the verso is probably from a later date. It illustrates the Prophet Muhammad's "Me'rāj", his heavenly ascent from Jerusalem, seated on a winged animal, Borâq, and accompanied by the archangel Gabriel and two other angels (a scene described in all five of the poems in the Khamsa). It is left unfinished and not fully coloured, and the Prophet's garment is only sketched in. - The second folio comes from the Khamsa's fourth poem, Nezâmi's masterpiece Haft Paykar ("The Seven Portraits"). In this poem the protagonist, the Sassanian king Bahrâm (r. 421-439) builds seven pavilions, in seven different colours, for his seven wives, each coming from one of the seven "climes" in which one divided the world. He visits them each on a consecutive day of the week, on which each of his wives tells him a story related to the "clime" she comes from (one of these stories later became famous in the West as the tale of Turandot). We here see an illustration of Bahrâm's visit on Friday to the seventh - white - pavilion. Against a golden background the king and his consort are seated close together. Both are wearing gowns with a floral motive, hers is golden, his is blue, both are crowned, his crown is feathered, her long black hair hangs on her back, she gently touches his chin. In the margin above the gold/blue/red frame, the white dome tops the scene. The pavilion is decorated with floral motives, little clouds float above the two windows on each side, through the left one we see a servant girl approaching, holding a bottle of wine, through that on the right we see a cypress suggesting a garden beyond. On the foreground some garden plants and two ponds. (For a fine translation of the accompanying text - the end of the sixth story and the beginning of the last one - see Nizami, "Haft Paykar, A Medieval Persian Romance", translated by Julie Scott Meisami, OUP, 1995, § 37-38). - The third miniature illustrates a scene from the Sharaf-nâma ("Book of Honour"), the first part of the Iskandar-nâma ("Book of Alexander"), in which Alexander is portrayed as a political and military leader, travelling through many countries. In this scene the king visits the Kaaba in Mecca. We see him, with an attendant, on the right, in rich clothes and wearing a feathered crown, near the Kaaba, unrealistically depicted as a brick building, with a golden door, with two knockers, in the middle of a garden. The text on this page begins as follows: "He performed the tawâf [the ritual counterclockwise tour around the Kaaba], which is indispensable for everyone/ and circled around that house//he first kissed the door of the Kaaba/and was absorbed in God//He prostrated himself before the threshold...".
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