recto © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
2002.50.2
Title
Khusraw and Shirin with Courtiers and Pomegranates (painting, verso; text, recto), folio from a manuscript of the Khamsa (Khusraw and Shirin) by Nizami
Classification
Manuscripts
Work Type
manuscript folio
Date
1584
Places
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Shiraz
Period
Safavid period
Culture
Persian
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/149309
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Dimensions
40.2 x 26.3 cm (15 13/16 x 10 3/8 in.)
Provenance
[Christies, London, 18 October 1994, lot 30]. [Mansour Gallery, London, by 1994 or 1995], sold; to Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood, Belmont, MA (1994 or 1995 - 2002), gift; to Harvard Art Museums, 2002.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art
Accession Year
2002
Object Number
2002.50.2
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Description
Nizami’s romance Khusraw va Shirin involves historical figures of pre-Islamic Iran, principally the Sasanian king Khusraw II Parviz (r. 590–628) and the Armenian princess Shirin. Young Prince Khusraw, enticed by his friend Shapur’s description of a beautiful and virtuous princess he had seen in Armenia, sent Shapur off to find her and bring her to Iran. Shapur, a skilled artist, drew a series of portraits of Khusraw, and, upon viewing them, Shirin fell in love with the handsome prince and set out for his kingdom, while Khusraw himself left Iran to seek the princess in Armenia. Following a series of failed encounters, the couple met, but their marriage was postponed for many years by a series of obstacles.
In this painting the soon-to-be newlyweds are shown seated in a lavishly decorated architectural setting with male courtiers or sages and female attendants. The illuminated text boxes form part of the palace structure, contributing to the elaboration of the pictorial surface. Four maidens stand on the tiled roof, and two more are seated on a balcony. In the main hall, where the wedding reception will take place, the figures gesture in animated conversation. Several trays of pomegranates—symbolic of love, sexuality, and procreation—are placed on the carpet beside the guests.

Published Catalogue Text: In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art , written 2013
106

Khusraw and Shirin, from Khusraw va Shīrīn
Recto: text and illustration
Verso: text
Folio: 40.2 × 26.3 cm (15 13/16 × 10 3/8 in.)
2002.50.2

Published: Christie’s 1994a, lot 30.

Nizami’s romance Khusraw va Shīrīn involves historical figures of pre-Islamic Iran, principally the Sasanian king Khusraw II Parviz (r. 590–628) and the Armenian princess Shirin. Young Prince Khusraw, enticed by his friend Shapur’s description of a beautiful and virtuous princess he had seen in Armenia, sent Shapur off to find her and bring her to Iran. Shapur, a skilled artist, drew a series of portraits of Khusraw, and, upon viewing them, Shirin fell in love with the handsome prince and set out for his kingdom, while Khusraw himself left Iran to seek the princess in Armenia. Following a series of failed encounters, the couple met, but their marriage was postponed for many years by a series of obstacles.

In this painting the soon-to-be newlyweds are shown seated in a lavishly decorated architectural setting with male courtiers or sages and female attendants. The illuminated text boxes form part of the palace structure, contributing to the elaboration of the pictorial surface. Four maidens stand on the tiled roof, and two more are seated on a balcony. In the main hall, where the wedding reception will take place, the figures gesture in animated conversation. Several trays of pomegranates—symbolic of love, sexuality, and procreation—are placed on the carpet beside the guests.

Mika M. Natif

Publication History

Mary McWilliams, ed., In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2013), p. 244, cat. 106, ill.

Exhibition History

In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/2013 - 06/01/2013

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu