In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art

, Arthur M. Sackler Museum
  • Opening Lecture: In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art
  • Installation of “In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art”
  • Re-creation of a Medieval Ceramic Sweetmeat Dish from Iran
  • interior

  • Iskandar Meets the Angel Israfil and Khizr Finds the Water of Life (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Iskandar Meets the Angel Israfil and Khizr Finds the Water of Life (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    In his existential quests and search for the Water of Life, Iskandar went with his men to explore the western regions. Entering the Land of Darkness, the king asked a local leader and mystic, Khizr, to be their guide, but, taking a wrong turn, they became separated from him and had to continue on their own in the gloom. Alone, Khizr found the magical spring, whose waters he bathed in and drank. Meanwhile, Iskandar came to a mountain; at its summit was Israfil, the Angel of Death, holding a trumpet and awaiting God’s orders to blow it. Upon seeing Iskandar, the angel warned him to be less concerned for crown and throne, since the ruler himself would someday hear the trumpet call. The painting depicts three separate occurrences in the story. An enormous Israfil, holding a seven-belled horn, dominates the upper left corner of the composition, dwarfing Iskandar, with whom the angel converses. Behind and below Iskandar, members of his army struggle through the rocky landscape, their torches lighting the winding route; they turn to one another and gesture with their hands, enlivening the composition. In the lower left corner, Khizr and a second man, Ilyas, have found the Water of Life. According to tradition, these two prophets never died; hence they are shown drinking from the spring of immortality while all others seek their way in the dark.

  • Piran Attacks the Iranians at Night (painting, verso; text, recto), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Piran Attacks the Iranians at Night (painting, verso; text, recto), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Following successful attacks on Turan by the Iranians, Afrasiyab appointed Piran to lead the Turanian army and defeat the invaders. Learning that the Iranians had let down their guard and were carousing drunkenly, Piran rallied thirty thousand soldiers and attacked their encampment in the hours of darkness, soundly defeating them. Although this painting shows the attack, its scenes of slaughter are subordinated to the beauty of the floral landscape and embellished tents and the rhythmic placement of the figures with their swinging scimitars. Sharing the restraint and delicacy of many Safavid paintings, it does not fully convey the bloody tumult and chaos that Firdawsi describes.

  • Bahram Gur in the Sandalwood Pavilion, from the Haft paykar

    Bahram Gur in the Sandalwood Pavilion, from the Haft paykar

    This painting depicts Bahram Gur’s visit, on the sixth day, to the sandalwood pavilion of Princess Yaghme, the daughter of the emperor of China. The couple is dressed in garments that match the color of the pavilion, here articulated in pale yellow and washed peach. The princess offers her husband pomegranates on a golden tray; he holds a winecup. They are attended by Yaghme’s ladies-in-waiting, female musicians, and other servants. Although the text describes a pavilion furnished with Chinese treasures, it is depicted here as richly decorated with tiles, wall paintings, and carpets in Persianate style.

  • Fineleaf Fumitory Folio from a manuscript of Khawass al-ashjar (De materia medica) by Dioscorides

    Fineleaf Fumitory Folio from a manuscript of Khawass al-ashjar (De materia medica) by Dioscorides

    De materia medica, the great treatise on the therapeutic properties of natural substances —plants, minerals, and animals—was written, probably during the third quarter of the first century BCE, by Dioscorides Pedanius, a Greek author from Anzarba (now Anavarza), in southeastern Turkey. This folio probably once belonged to a now-fragmentary and dispersed manuscript known as the Vignier-Densmore Dioscorides. Containing most of Book III of the treatise and parts of the remaining books, the known folios of this manuscript preserve neither colophon nor date. Characteristics of the Vignier-Densmore manuscript include the letter sin written with three diacritical dots below it; fifteen to seventeen lines of text per page; the loss of, or damage to, the outer bottom corners of the folios; a purplish-black discoloration of the paper caused by the ink bleeding through from the opposite side; and Western-style numbering in the outer top corners. The stylized image follows the conventions of herbal illustration in depicting the plant from leaf tips to bare roots. The rubric qafunus identifies the plant as fineleaf fumitory (Fumaria parvifolia), which, according to the text, has small, grayish leaves and purple flowers; its sharp juice makes the eyes water and, when mixed with glue, can be used to discourage the growth of eyebrows. When eaten, the herb causes the patient to excrete bile.

  • Double page: Rustam Mourns Sohrab and Carries His Coffin (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Double page: Rustam Mourns Sohrab and Carries His Coffin (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    This painting is part of a double-page composition that represents two final moments in the tragic tale of Rustam, the great Iranian hero, and his son, Sohrab. Rustam had departed the kingdom of his bride, Tahmina, before Sohrab’s birth. He was unaware of his son’s existence until they met, years later, on the battlefield, where Sohrab was leading the Turanian army against the Iranians. Not recognizing each other, the two champions fought in fierce single combat on three successive days. Only after Rustam managed to wrestle Sohrab to the ground and fatally stab him was the identity of the mighty young warrior revealed to his distraught father. The painting on the right depicts Rustam kneeling next to his dying son, who lies mortally wounded. Sohrab’s coat has been partially pulled off to reveal on his arm the amulet that Rustam gave Tahmina the night Sohrab was conceived. Warriors of the two armies, looking on in shock, encircle the two heroes. The painting on the left shows Rustam singlehandedly carrying the coffin of his son. The mourners around him raise their arms in the air, beat their chests, and undo their turbans in grief. The double-page composition is surrounded by lavish gold-and-blue illuminated borders consisting of curvilinear trefoils and floral tracery.

  • Courtier with Attendants in a Garden, folio from an album

    Courtier with Attendants in a Garden, folio from an album

    This painting depicts three youths in a garden. The aristocratic central figure, wearing an ornamented robe and holding a wine cup, leans against a blossoming tree. One of his attendants, kneeling on the left, offers him flowers and a golden tray, while the other carries his quiver of arrows. The languid and lyrical scene is rendered with delicate brushwork and sensitivity to detail evident in the figures’ communicative gestures and gazes and in the variety of naturalistic flowering plants. A long-necked ceramic vase on a golden stand bears traces of an inscription added at a later time and now illegible. The setting of this painting, with its patterned wall, flowering tree, meandering stream, and blooming ground plants, is typical of garden scenes produced in Uzbek ateliers. The young men’s facial features and squat turbans further support a Shaybanid Central Asian attribution. The painting is currently mounted as an album page. Examined under a microscope, its paper support is shown to be very thin and to have many creases and cracks, possibly because the folio on which the painting was executed was removed from its original context and split into two sheets. At the upper right is a reversed seal-impression, transferred from a facing album page.

  • Youth Dressed as a Dervish, folio from an album

    Youth Dressed as a Dervish, folio from an album

    A youthful dervish, his clothing rendered in uniformly dark hues of cool green, purple, and brown that contrast with the warm pink of his face and hands, is posed against a ground of ivory-colored paper, unpainted save for a common repertoire of golden landscape elements. He wears a plumed wool cap, carries a staff over his shoulder, and offers a sprig of yellow, red, and gray leaves to a companion beyond the picture frame. An inscription that reads, raqm/raqam-i kamina Riza-yi ?Abbasi (work of the humble Riza ?Abbasi)—the customary wording of the artist’s signed works—appears at the lower left. Although raqm or raqam ordinarily means “writing” or “figuring,” here it makes more sense translated as “work” or “design.” Riza’s frequent use of this term in his signatures suggests a conceptual blurring of the boundaries between the arts of writing and of depicting and, in addition, may represent a claim of entitlement to the high status accorded to calligraphers.

  • Portrait of a Youth

    Portrait of a Youth

    The composition of this portrait study was first outlined in pencil and then blocked out with fields of watercolor, as is evidenced in the sitter’s chair. Next, the artist added opaque watercolor in layers, using fine lines and stippling to replicate the designs and textures of fabrics, most prominently those of the young man’s patterned coat and its gray fur trim. In contrast to his brightly colored clothing, his face is generally pallid, but blues beneath his chin and mouth suggest the hint of a beard. The play on near monochrome is continued in the silhouetted, inky locks that frame his face and give way to a tall black hat. The subject’s position in the composition and aspects of painterly execution such as the modeling of his face and hands suggest that the image was based at least in part on a photograph, a practice common among Qajar artists from the mid-nineteenth century onward, photography having been introduced in Iran in the 1840s. The painting reflects the “new realism” introduced by Abu'l-Hasan Ghaffari, also known as Sani' al-Mulk, in the middle years of the nineteenth century, during the reign of Nasir al-Din Shah (r. 1848–96), and disseminated by his contemporaries. Ghaffari’s work combined physiognomic likeness with the psychology of the subject to produce an often intense pictorial effect—a “real” presence—undiminished by rich decorative details, which in some artists’ hands might emphasize surface at the expense of illusionistic volume and depth. Although this portrait lacks the overall impact of a work by Ghaffari, it demonstrates its painter’s participation in what was new at the time. On the lower right side of the sheet, a barely visible inscription, which reads, tasvvr-i dukhtar-i Shahrukh (depiction [by] the daughter of Shahrukh), is tantalizing because it suggests a female artist. Unfortunately, however, this notation is too perfunctory and too uncertain in date to permit further conclusions.

  • Small Bowl of

    Small Bowl of "Gambroon ware"

    With its exceptionally thin potting and near-translucent, pure white fabric, this small bowl belongs to a category of fine ceramics popularly known as “Gombroon wares.” The bowl has rounded walls, a slightly everted rim, and a low foot ring glazed in the center. A small depression inside the foot ring perfectly fits the middle finger, ensuring that the bowl balances easily in the user’s hand. On the interior of the bowl, this depression forms a small boss, on or around which the underglaze painting is applied. The delicate potting is emphasized by openwork patterns pierced through the walls and filled with clear glaze, reviving a technique practiced in the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The designation “Gombroon wares” reflects the impact of European trade in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. These vessels were exported to Europe from an Iranian port town at the entrance to the Persian Gulf, Bandar Abbas, which was known to the European trading companies as Gombroon, Gamrun, or Gamru. From European primary sources and a handful of dated objects, it can be deduced that the production period for Gombroon wares stretched from at least the 1690s into the early 1800s. Bandar Abbas served as the terminal point of trade routes originating at Yazd and Kirman to the north and Lar, Shiraz, and Isfahan to the northwest. It has been suggested that the production site for these wares was Nain (a small town due east of Isfahan), where a similar highly vitrified fritware was made in the nineteenth century.

  • Pen Box with Birds, Flowers, and Butterflies

    Pen Box with Birds, Flowers, and Butterflies

    The upper surface of this pen box (qalamdan) is divided into three lobed cartouches outlined in gold, their interstices filled with golden palmettes and flowers. A bird-and-flower composition uniting nightingale, rose, and blossoming branch dominates the center cartouche. The flanking compartments, one broadly mirroring the other save changes in palette, contain prunus blossoms, a tulip, and hovering butterflies that gather nectar from and pollinate the plants. The background of the pen box is a deep reddish brown flecked with particles of gold; it provides the ideal contrast for the bright colors used in the bird-and- flower designs. The coloristic effect of the palette—greens, white, blues, pinks, browns, and reds—has been unified by the layers of shellac varnish applied to the surface as a final stage. The sides of the pen box continue the subject matter of the upper face, similarly structured in three compositional groupings; the principal difference is that the birds directly confront the winged insects amid miniature floral thickets.

  • Small Bowl of

    Small Bowl of "Gambroon ware"

    With its exceptionally thin potting and near-translucent, pure white fabric, this small bowl belongs to a category of fine ceramics popularly known as “Gombroon wares.” The bowl has rounded walls, a slightly everted rim, and a low foot ring glazed in the center. A small depression inside the foot ring perfectly fits the middle finger, ensuring that the bowl balances easily in the user’s hand. On the interior of the bowl, this depression forms a small boss, on or around which the underglaze painting is applied. The delicate potting is emphasized by openwork patterns pierced through the walls and filled with clear glaze, reviving a technique practiced in the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The bowl is broken and has been put back together, with small plaster fills in the walls. The designation “Gombroon wares” reflects the impact of European trade in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. These vessels were exported to Europe from an Iranian port town at the entrance to the Persian Gulf, Bandar Abbas, which was known to the European trading companies as Gombroon, Gamrun, or Gamru. From European primary sources and a handful of dated objects, it can be deduced that the production period for Gombroon wares stretched from at least the 1690s into the early 1800s. Bandar Abbas served as the terminal point of trade routes originating at Yazd and Kirman to the north and Lar, Shiraz, and Isfahan to the northwest. It has been suggested that the production site for these wares was Nain (a small town due east of Isfahan), where a similar highly vitrified fritware was made in the nineteenth century.

  • Cup with Lobed Rim and Human Faces

    Cup with Lobed Rim and Human Faces

    This cup is decorated with repeated human heads molded in relief. The lobed rim follows the contours of the projecting heads, which feature large, almond-eyed faces.The deep blue glaze covers the interior and exterior body of the cup and has flowed onto the base. On one side, it has deteriorated, becoming iridescent.

  • Equestrian Portrait of Raja Karan Singh of Bikaner

    Equestrian Portrait of Raja Karan Singh of Bikaner

    This fragmentary drawing portrays Raja Karan Singh of Bikaner (r. 1631–69) on horseback. Shown in profile, the ruler wears an elaborate turban and gem-studded jewelry. Detailed brushwork and shading give a sense of volume to the bodies of horse and rider; the animal’s galloping stance and the flying bands of the raja’s clothing create the impression of lively motion. Because Raja Karan Singh was alternately an ally and a foe of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb (r. 1658–1707), this portrait, like other art produced in Bikaner during his reign, merges local artistic traditions with Mughal idioms, reflecting both the self-identity of the house of Bikaner and its complex relations with the Mughals.

  • Gushtaham and Banduy Blind Hurmuzd (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Gushtaham and Banduy Blind Hurmuzd (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    King Hurmuzd was deceived into suspecting his son, Khusraw Parviz, of rebellion. Forewarned of his father’s plan to put him to death, Khusraw escaped from Iran. Hurmuzd, suspecting his brothers Gushtaham and Banduy of siding with Khusraw, imprisoned them. With the king dispirited and in seclusion, however, the prisoners escaped, armed themselves, and rode to the royal palace, where their troops blinded the king. The illustration depicts the gruesome moment when hot iron rods are put to Hurmuzd’s eyes. Instead of armed rebels, those who observe this scene are court officials, who display little emotion. Moreover, three women on the palace balcony seem entirely unaware of the event.

  • The Caliph Harun al-Rashid in the Bath (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Khamsa (Makhzan al-Asrar) by Nizami

    The Caliph Harun al-Rashid in the Bath (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Khamsa (Makhzan al-Asrar) by Nizami

    While shaving the Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid (d. 809) in the bathhouse, a barber impertinently professed his love for the ruler’s daughter and asked to marry her. Astounded at the barber’s audacity, the caliph consulted his vizier, who speculated that the barber might have been standing atop a treasure, which would generate inordinate confidence in any man. The next day, the vizier suggested, the caliph should choose another spot in the bathhouse and observe the barber’s behavior. Standing in a different place to minister to the caliph, the barber behaved in a polite and appropriate manner, not mentioning the ruler’s daughter. Harun al-Rashid immediately ordered the original location excavated, and indeed a treasure was found there. The illustration represents a lively genre scene of men in a bathhouse being washed, massaged, shaved, and entertained. Depicted at the right of the main chamber are a seated man, his lower body draped in blue, and a standing man in red who shaves his head. These two probably represent the caliph and the barber.

  • Woman Committing Sati, folio from an Album

    Woman Committing Sati, folio from an Album

    This painting dramatically represents a young woman about to commit sati, or self-immolation. The literary subject of a woman’s sacrificing herself on the funeral pyre of her dead husband was popularized in seventeenth-century Iran through the poet Naw'i Khabushani’s narrative Suz u Gudaz (Burning and Melting). Set in India, the poem tells of a Hindu bride who vows to cast herself on her bridegroom’s pyre and will not be dissuaded, even by the Mughal emperor himself. In many ways, however, this painting does not correspond to Naw'i’s text: the inscription beneath the painting is unrelated to the poem, the body of the bridegroom is missing from the pyre, key figures (such as the Mughal prince who accompanies the bride to the pyre) have been omitted, and the bride’s disrobing is uncalled for. Moreover, examination under transmitted light reveals no traces of text on the reverse side of the manuscript. In this illustration the young woman kneels next to a small pyre. She rends her gown in grief, exposing her naked torso, and pulls out locks of her hair, which she casts into the fire. Two other women try to restrain her; below them a man crouches, his turban undone and his facial features contorted with grief. Opposite the fire, an older man sits hunched over, his eyes closed. At the horizon is a group of male observers, the one on the right wearing a European hat. Dramatic clouds bracket a tree with leaves similar to those found in early seventeenth-century Mughal paintings. One may conclude that this painting, which blends Persian and Indian elements with European techniques of modeling and shading and demonstrates knowledge of and interest in the female body, was created as a single-page work illustrating the exotic topic of sati and eroticizing the foreign (here Hindu) woman. This hybrid style is characteristic of Safavid painting in the second half of the seventeenth century.

  • Bowl with Foliated and Plaited Inscription

    Bowl with Foliated and Plaited Inscription

    Among the more extravagant developments in Samanid epigraphic wares is the elaboration of Arabic script—occasionally, as here, to the point of illegibility. The inscription on this bowl is a compendium of the major decorative devices and themes that embellish these wares, including the dramatic elongation or extension of letters and their ornamentation with plaiting, arcs, loops, knots, foliate terminals, and interlacings that seem to spring from their middles or the ligatures between them.The most exuberant decorative devices occupy the upper zone of the inscription, that is, toward the center of the bowl. Underlying the proliferation of ornament is an essentially rhythmic structure based on repetition of near-identical elements. Occurring three times in the band, and dividing it roughly into thirds, is a complicated and additive form of the letter alif, the tallest element in the inscription. Each alif bears three loops on its staff and at its top deflects rightward in a foliate terminal. Its baseline stretches to the right and has been transformed into a split leaf, from which a tendril curls upward and rightward and terminates in another split leaf. The tendril in turn joins, or nearly joins, a curving and branching foliate outgrowth that reinforces the rhythm established by the alif. Less regularly spaced are three plaited ornaments that spring once from a ligature and twice from a closed rectangular letter. Small rosettes composed of four dots enliven the interstitial space of the inscription band and mark the center of the bowl. This bowl is well and thinly potted of a fine-grained earthenware. The exterior and interior are covered in a creamy white slip under a clear glaze. The flat and very slightly concave base is partially slipped and glazed. Only the interior is decorated; its brownish-black slip stands slightly raised above the surface, and a carving tool has been used to sharpen contours and to articulate the plaiting, twisting, and overlapping of the letters. The bowl has been reassembled from numerous fragments, with one notable loss on the rim.

  • Iskandar Mourns the Dying Dara (painting, verso; text, recto), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Iskandar Mourns the Dying Dara (painting, verso; text, recto), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Iskandar (Alexander the Great) and Dara (Darius, ruler of the Achaemenid empire), had waged war against each other for three years. While the Iranian forces were in retreat, Dara was stabbed by two of his ministers, Mahiyar and Janusiyar, who expected a reward from Iskandar. But Iskandar, who had just learned that he was Dara’s half-brother, rushed to the scene of the attack and tenderly comforted his mortally wounded opponent. In the center of this painting, Dara lies dying, his head cradled by Iskandar, who holds a blue handkerchief to his eyes and weeps. At left the two traitorous officers, Mahiyar and Janusiyar, are shown bound, with their heads shaved; Iskandar has assured Dara that he will have them executed. Encircling the death scene are the mournful and bewildered entourages of the two rulers. These military men are depicted not only in the usual profile and three-quarter views but also frontally and from behind. Although Dara is the elder brother, in this painting it is the lamenting Iskandar who has the white beard. The tragic scene takes place against a colorful background painted in light blue, mauve, and ochre; the flowers, grass, rocks, and trees of the landscape offset the grimness of the human drama. Figures and landscape have both been delineated in exceptional detail.

  • Bowl with Birds Circling an Inscription

    Bowl with Birds Circling an Inscription

    Potters working during the reign of the Samanid dynasty in northeastern Iran and Central Asia produced some of the most impressive and distinctive wares in the history of Islamic art. One of their most successful decorative techniques involved the use of slips—colored clays in solution—both to envelop the reddish earthenware body of vessels and to add surface designs. The body of this bowl, for example, is covered completely in a whitish slip, with a lively design in olive green painted over it. The green color is produced by fine particles of a chromium compound. Within a rim decorated with running crescents appear two wide-eyed birds, positioned breast-to- tail, who pinwheel around an Arabic inscription in foliated Kufic that reads, “Blessing to him” (baraka lahu). On the exterior, three circles enclosing parallel diagonal lines alternate with three downward-pointing arrows. The crescents, pop-eyed animals, benevolent inscription, and circles echo designs on tenth-century monochrome lusterwares produced in Basra. Slip-painted imitations of Basra vessels seem to have been a specialty of the potters of Nishapur, in northeastern Iran. A clear glaze with a slight greenish tinge covers the interior and exterior of this bowl, including its beveled, slightly concave base. The vessel has been put back together from fragments, with painted plaster filling in losses in the wing of the inverted bird.

  • Bowl Inscribed with Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad and 'Ali ibn Abi Talib

    Bowl Inscribed with Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad and 'Ali ibn Abi Talib

    With its pure white slip, precise calligraphy, and perfectly clear glaze, this deep-walled bowl embodies the finest qualities of Samanid epigraphic wares. Most surviving examples of this class of ceramics reproduce benedictory phrases or popular proverbs. More rarely, as here they record sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad and his Companions. Beginning in his own lifetime, Muhammad’s example was considered an important guide for how people should conduct their lives. In the early centuries of the Islamic era, sayings attributed to and anecdotes about him were collected and analyzed by numerous authors. The large andcomplex body of literature that resulted from this immense effort is known as hadith. The outer inscription on this bowl is written in black slip and records a saying attributed to the Prophet: “Modesty is a branch of faith, and faith is in paradise”. The inner inscription, in red slip, contains a similar dictum credited to 'Ali ibn Abi Talib, Muhammad’s son-in-law and the fourth orthodox Caliph of Islam: “Greed is a sign of poverty”. Because each inscription is written in a ring, the calligrapher inserted a single-word invocation to mark the beginning: in the outer circle, “felicity”, and in the inner one, “health”. This bowl has been reassembled from about fifteen fragments, with only minimal losses. The white slip and clear glaze completely cover the vessel, including its flat, slightly concave base.

  • Episodes from the Story of Siyavush (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Episodes from the Story of Siyavush (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Recto. Text describes Sudaba deceiving Kay Kavus, and Sudaba finding a reason to kill Siyavush. Verso. Text describes Kay Kavus asking an astrologer about his children.

  • Story of Iraj's Journey to Meet with His Brothers and His Death at Their Hands (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Story of Iraj's Journey to Meet with His Brothers and His Death at Their Hands (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    A great part of the Shahnama is devoted to wars between the Iranians and the Turanians. The latter were descendants of Tur, son of the emperor Faridun. The conflict began when the Faridun divided his kingdom among his three sons, Salm, Tur, and Iraj. The lands of Iran and Arabia were given to the youngest son, Iraj; Salm received the western kingdom of Rum (Anatolia); and to Tur was dealt the eastern kingdom (Central Asia), named after him as Turan. In later years, Salm and Tur became jealous of Iraj, and murdered him, setting into motion the conflicts between Iran and its neighbors that drive much of the action in the Shahnama. A splendid tented enclosure provides the setting for the princely fratricide. Having knocked the crown from Iraj's head, Tur here dispatches his brother on a medallion carpet before an audience of dismayed courtiers.

  • Murder of Iraj (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Murder of Iraj (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    The painting depicts a decisive moment in the Shahnama and provides the explanation for the bitter enmity between the Iranians and the Turanians (Turks) that pervades the subsequent narrative of the epic. Firdawsi tells us that the conflict between the two groups began after King Faridun divided his empire among his three sons. Rum (Byzantine territory) and the western lands were assigned to Salm, China and Central Asia to Tur, and Iran and Arabia to Iraj. Over the years, Salm and Tur grew jealous of Iraj and plotted to murder him. The tragic episode took place in Iraj’s encampment. Having learned of his brothers’ intent, Iraj vainly begged Tur to spare his life, but Tur, with Salm looking on, stabbed Iraj with a poisoned dagger, cut off his head, and sent it to their father, Faridun. The illustration shows a marvelous tent complex crowded with high officials and noblemen, looking on as Tur severs Iraj’s head. Whereas in the text Firdawsi details the youngest brother’s wounds and spilled blood, the artist of this illustration focuses on his final, vain attempt to fend off the knife at his throat. His crown has fallen to the ground, likely knocked off during Tur’s attack. Salm stands on the right, seemingly taken aback by the violent action unfolding before his eyes. By the sixteenth century, the iconography and composition of this scene were well established and appear in numerous illustrated Shahnama manuscripts.

  • The Story of Rustam and Bahman (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    The Story of Rustam and Bahman (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Text folio concerning the battle between Afrasiyab and Kay Khusraw

  • Rustam and the Iranians Hunt in Afrasiyab’s Preserves (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Rustam and the Iranians Hunt in Afrasiyab’s Preserves (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    While Rustam was resting and feasting during a break from battle, one of his mighty companions, known as champions, suggested that they go hunting in the territory of their enemy, Afrasiyab, the king of Turan. After a week spent enthusiastically poaching animals and birds, Rustam fully expected retribution from the king, and he was unconcerned when Afrasiyab bore down on the Iranian interlopers with an army of thirty thousand men. Each of his champions, Rustam said, was the equal of five hundred of Afrasiyab’s men. The lively illustration shows the Iranians hunting, before Afrasiyab’s arrival compels them to resume battle. A group of riders, wearing distinctive Safavid headgear, pursues a host of animals: deer, leopards, rams, and wild onagers. The archer at the upper left is identified as Rustam by his characteristic tiger-skin coat and leopard helmet.

  • Story of How Garsivaz is Tortured to Capture Afrasiyab (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Story of How Garsivaz is Tortured to Capture Afrasiyab (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Text folio with title “Kay Khusraw asks about Garsivaz”

  • Episodes from the Story of Mahuy (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Episodes from the Story of Mahuy (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Text folio, with titles “How Mahuy was informed of Yazdigird’s death and ascended the throne” and “Mahuy’s consultation with the minister and his answer to him” Recto. Text corresponds with Ramazani (1963) vol. 5, pp. 237-38, lines 7942-7971; text describes how Mahuy of Sur was informed of the obsequies of Yazdigird, and ascended the throne. Verso. Text corresponds with Ramazani (1963) vol. 5, pp. 328-30, lines 7972-8001; subtitles in text read, "Reign of Mahuy lasted six months," and "How Bijan, hearing of the slaying of Yazdigird and of Mahuy 's accession to the throne, left with a host to fight with him."

  • Double page: The Death of Luhrasp in Battle against the Forces of Arjasp (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Double page: The Death of Luhrasp in Battle against the Forces of Arjasp (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Text folio with title “Kuhram comes to Balkh with the king”

  • Zoomorphic Pitcher

    Zoomorphic Pitcher

    This pitcher is molded in the shape of an ox; the animal wears a harness defined in low relief. Despite the thinness of the potting, the vessel is intact. The glaze has deteriorated in some areas, but the overall surface is in very good condition.

  • Bowl with Radial Foliate Design

    Bowl with Radial Foliate Design

    The interior of this bowl is divided into eight equal sections by lines, embellished with dots and twining tendrils, that spring from triangular arabesques and terminate with pairs of small, silhouetted birds toward the rim. Each section contains a palmette-filled pendant. Around the rim runs an angular pseudo-inscription. Paired lines divide the exterior of the bowl into sections, which are filled with loosely painted scrolls. The twining tendrils and the palmette-enclosing pendants on the interior of this bowl are very common in Persian lusterwares. The bowl is intact, and the quality of its luster is remarkable. The white glaze does not cover the foot, which the potter would have held when dipping the vessel into the glazing compound before firing.

  • Young Woman as Cup Bearer, folio from an album

    Young Woman as Cup Bearer, folio from an album

    The drawing depicts a solitary woman offering a cup to someone outside the picture frame; other vessels for holding liquids are shown at her feet. The woman’s facial features, which include rounded cheeks, arched eyebrows, and a beauty spot, accord with contemporary standards of female comeliness. She is outfitted in elegant clothes, which emphasize her broad hips and slim torso, and a graceful headdress decorated with feathers. Wisps of curly hair frame her face and blow in the wind. The long, tapered strokes that delineate the profile of her hips and right shoulder seem to vibrate; the horizontal undulation of her hair indicates movement; and the staccato lines used to define the fluttering fabric of her skirt and the clouds in the sky above further increase the sense of animation. The drawing, which in several details reflects the style of Riza ?Abbasi, has been attributed to Habib Allah Savaji, an artist who was invited to work for the future ruler Shah ?Abbas (r. 1587–1629) in Herat and then Isfahan. Habib Allah’s oeuvre includes drawings, single-page paintings, and manuscript illustrations. Framing the drawing is a decorated border, drawn in gold on ivory paper. Layers of pink wash have been applied to the figures, which include Chinese phoenixes and qilins assimilated into Persianate art since the early 1400s, a vase with flowers, and landscape and floral elements. A series of colored ruled lines separates drawing from border.

  • Khusraw and Shirin with Courtiers and Pomegranates  (painting, verso; text, recto), folio from a manuscript of the Khamsa (Khusraw and Shirin) by Nizami

    Khusraw and Shirin with Courtiers and Pomegranates (painting, verso; text, recto), folio from a manuscript of the Khamsa (Khusraw and Shirin) by Nizami

    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.

  • Small Dish with Stylized Rock Dove

    Small Dish with Stylized Rock Dove

    Except for the brown rim, all the decoration on this small, round dish is painted in shades of cobalt blue. A rotund bird with backward-turning head neatly fills the interior. Around the exterior, a band defined by two painted lines encloses single dots alternating with beribboned fans; paired lines circle the inside and outside of the foot ring. The bowl has been put back together from fragments; plaster fills shaped like half-moons complete the rim. Along with the fans and floating ribbons, the brown rim points to the influence of Chinese export porcelain wares known as Kraak, which were produced in vast quantities to meet international demand. Potters working in late Safavid Iran painted an imitation of the colored rim dressing that in the second half of the seventeenth century was applied to these Chinese export wares to guard against chipping. Elegantly or hastily painted, birds are a common motif on blue-and- white ceramics from China and Iran. In the late Safavid period, artists produced beautiful drawings and paintings of birds. These works on paper usually feature generic songbirds perched on flowering branches; only rarely can their species be identified. The combination of bird and flowering branch was also rendered in luxury textiles, with an occasional butterfly or moth added to the mix. The squat bird on this bowl lacks a perch. With wings embellished by veined lotus leaves, it was clearly not intended as a botanical study. Nevertheless, its potbelly, square tail, banded and slightly lifted wings, and large feet suggest that it is a rock dove (feral pigeon), perhaps of a checkered variety. These omnipresent bluish-gray birds were much valued in Safavid Iran, where large mud-brick towers were constructed to house them by the thousands. Such pigeon towers served as collecting points for bird droppings, which, when mixed with soil and ash, were for centuries a prized fertilizer.

  • Mirror-Case Cover with Mother, Child, and Angel

    Mirror-Case Cover with Mother, Child, and Angel

    The outer surface of this mirror-case cover features a rose-and- nightingale theme. Here the bulbul appears among flowers—roses and hydrangeas—against a reddish-brown ground enclosed by a ruled border. At the top right, above the hydrangeas, a small inscription in white nasta? liq reads ya Imam ?asan (O Imam Hasan), invoking the second Shi?i Imam, son of ?Ali ibn Abi Talib and Fatima. The presence of this text suggests that a related theme, such as a devotional image of ?Ali and his sons Hasan and Husayn, will be found on the inner surface of the lid, so what actually appears there delivers a surprise: a grouping, derived from Christian sources, of a mother, her child, and an angel in a landscape setting. The Qajar rendition of this scene conflates the iconography of the Annunciation, where the angel Gabriel, bearing a lily, appears before the Virgin Mary, with that of Mary holding the infant Jesus, from whose head radiates a subtle halo. Although Mary’s red and blue clothing follows the standard color convention, she is dressed as a modern, bejeweled European lady. In a form of immodest modesty, the bodice of her dress is cut so low that it exposes her breasts, which are barely concealed by a diaphanous silky covering. The same gauzy fabric makes up her long but revealing sleeves. The painting technique of this scene differs from that of the outer surface: here the underlying ivory-colored pasteboard is not completely covered with pigment. Rather, washes of bright paint dominated by red, blue, green, and gold, as well as extremely fine stippling, are applied to the paper, producing an effect that resembles ceramic glazing. The tinted monochrome palette of the landscape is typical of Qajar lacquer objects that, in adopting subject matter from European prints, mimic the effects of engraving. The treatment of Mary’s bosom is reminiscent of the fusion of profane and Christian subjects developed in Mughal painting during the reign of Akbar (1556–1605) and fostered by his son and successor Jahangir (r. 1605–27). The eroticized image of the European woman, common in Qajar art, represents an appropriation of various European sources mediated through Indian artworks.

  • Bowl with Seated Couple

    Bowl with Seated Couple

    On the interior of this bowl, a seated couple flanks a central, checkered tree, which— together with the fish swimming below and a busy network of thin, curving vines—conveys the idea of a garden setting. Along the walls of the bowl are six roundels decorated alternately with harpies and human figures. Like birds, harpies are commonly found in Persian Islamic ceramics and usually carry auspicious connotations. The area just below the rim is decorated with a pseudo-inscription with plaited verticals. The exterior features double vertical lines bracketing loosely painted scrolls. Recent museum conservation of the bowl has showed it to be made up of fifteen major fragments, but all join fairly smoothly, indicating that nothing has been lost from the original object. The luster is brilliant and reddish in tone.

  • Albarello with Inscription, Arabesques, and Figures

    Albarello with Inscription, Arabesques, and Figures

    The decoration on this tall albarello, or medicine jar, is carefully painted and harmoniously composed in horizontal registers. These bands vary in width, and the backgrounds alternate between black and turquoise. The wide neck bears an inscription in tall Kufic letters, repeating the Arabic word al-mulk (sovereignty). Scrolling, leafy tendrils run along three bands. Two others are occupied by figural motifs: just below the shoulder, seven haloed sphinxes, facing left, appear on a black ground, and, below them, five figures sit cross-legged among scrolling tendrils with kidney-shaped leaves. Some of the figures are bearded and others clean shaven, but all are haloed and wear black robes patterned in reserve. Although Calderwood acquired this albarello as a work of medieval Persian art, it is more likely the product of a revival of traditional styles and media that took place in Iran during the Pahlavi reign (1925–79). In form and decoration, it evokes without exactly replicating ceramics from the Seljuk-Atabeg period. Had the jar been intended as a forgery, the potter would have made it of white rather than plaster-covered pink fritware. The albarello is intact, but in many places the glaze has deteriorated to a matte surface. The ceramic body is fine grained but soft. The plaster and turquoise glaze cover the jar inside and out, stopping short of the foot ring.

  • Illuminated frontispiece (illuminated text, recto; text, verso), left-hand side of a bifolio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Illuminated frontispiece (illuminated text, recto; text, verso), left-hand side of a bifolio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    The recto of this folio is the left half of a frontispiece from a copy of the Shahnama. Written in white nasta'liq script within the central medallion are lines of Baysunghur Mirza’s introduction to Firdawsi’s epic. The illumination consists of abstract curvilinear motifs in blue and gold overlaid with sinuous cloudbands and colorful floral scrolls. To the right of the inner rectangle, at the midpoint of the blue ruling, a tiny inscription in white reads, amal-i Qasim (made by Qasim), probably referring to the illuminator. In design and palette, this frontispiece is comparable to others produced in Iran and Central Asia in the second half of the sixteenth century. For comparison see 2002.50.127 and 2002.50.126 at the Harvard Art Museums.

  • Khusraw Parviz Murdered in his Sleep (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Khusraw Parviz Murdered in his Sleep (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Courtiers who supported prince Shiruy’s bid for the throne pressured him to slay his father, the captive Khusraw Parviz. Shiruy, although distressed by the idea, was too weak to stand up to his nobles; they hired an assassin, whom Firdawsi describes as a hideous man named Mihr Hurmuzd. When Mihr Hurmuzd entered the palace where Khusraw Parviz was imprisoned, the king was appalled by the repellent creature who would bring about his death. He ordered his servant to bring fresh clothes and water and, after washing and praying, put on the clothes and covered his face with a cloak to avoid seeing his ugly murderer. Immediately Mihr Hurmuzd, dagger in hand, locked the chamber doors and stabbed the king in the chest. The painting captures the dramatic climax of the story, showing Khusraw on his bed and, atop him, Mihr Hurmuzd in the act of stabbing. Khusraw wears a crown; his face, contrary to what the text says, is not covered. The appearance of the assassin likewise diverges from the textual description: he wears ordinary fifteenth-century court dress, and only his exposed legs indicate his lowly status. The royal chamber in which the scene takes place is decorated with wall paintings, tilework, a carpet, and various types of geometric ornament.

  • Bowl with Three Figures and Checkered Trees

    Bowl with Three Figures and Checkered Trees

    On this bowl a single figure is shown seated in the middle, with two smaller figures on the sides. The hand gestures and eye contact of the trio suggest that they are engaged in a meeting; the trees between them hint that it is taking place in a garden setting. The rendering of the trio’s physiognomy and richly patterned garments is typical of luster and minai wares from Iran, as is the checkerboard foliage of the trees. The scalloped segments above and below the figural scene are filled with thick, undulating vines, defined in reserve against a gold ground. Around the inner rim runs an angular pseudo-inscription.The exterior of the bowl is decorated with double vertical lines and loose scrolls. The bowl has been put back together from several pieces, with only minor losses. Its pale-yellow luster surface has no sheen.

  • Bowl with a Cheetah Standing on the Back of a Horse

    Bowl with a Cheetah Standing on the Back of a Horse

    Figural designs on polychrome ceramics offer tantalizing and often puzzling glimpses into the complex society of the Samanid realm, now divided between northeastern Iran and Uzbekistan.The majority of these wares are made of buff-colored earthenware decorated with lively, and often freely rendered, figural images painted in bright colors under clear glaze. The decoration of this small bowl has been executed with exceptional detail and care. Fluid and confident strokes of black slip delineate a crested bird, a spotted feline, and a well-groomed horse. These forms are filled or dotted with green and yellow. The feline and the horse raise their right forelegs; they both sport ankle bands and scalloped collars. The horse has a cropped mane, a knotted tail, and curling fetlocks. Filling its body is a bold pseudo-inscription in floriated and spiraling Kufic script. The top of its eye is defined by two extended parallel lines; this distinctive treatment is occasionally found in figural wares excavated in Nishapur. The feline may be identified as a cheetah by the black stripe descending from its eye. The vignette of a collared feline on the back of an imposing horse may be a shorthand reference to the costly, prestigious, and ancient sport of hunting with cheetahs. Capable of short bursts of extraordinary speed, cheetahs were usually set on gazelles, rabbits, and other fleet game, but because stamina was not one of their virtues, they had to be conveyed to the hunt. One of the cheetah trainer’s more demanding tasks was to teach his charge to ride pillion on the back of a horse moving at any speed. The exterior decoration of this bowl consists of pendant leaf shapes painted in an alternating pattern: a buff leaf with an interior dot-dash-dot device alternates with a colored leaf, sequentially yellow or green. No slip is detectable over the light buff ceramic body. The entire bowl, including the flat, slightly concave base, is covered in a clear glaze. The bowl has been reassembled from at least three large fragments and has minor losses and repairs along the rim.

  • Star Tile with Lotus Decoration

    Star Tile with Lotus Decoration

    Molded in relief, this tile is decorated with stylized lotuses. The background and interior details of the plants are painted in brownish luster; the edge of the tile is outlined in cobalt blue. The lotus motif, as developed in the arts of East Asia, was introduced to the decorative repertoire of the Islamic lands under the Ilkhanids, who in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries ruled an area extending from Central Asia to Asia Minor. The Ilkhanids continued the practice established by their predecessors of decorating interior walls with revetments composed of star-and cross-shaped tiles. Relief tiles with related floral designs sometimes include animals and feature inscription bands around their rims.

  • Wedding Celebration of Zal and Rudaba (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Wedding Celebration of Zal and Rudaba (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    This festive painting depicts the marriage of the Iranian prince Zal to Rudaba, daughter of Mihrab, the king of Kabul. The vibrantly colored and dynamically composed scene is filled with lively vignettes, including a circle of female musicians and dancers who wave their long sleeves as they circle in front of the newly wedded couple. The palace interior is brightly tiled in various geometric patterns. In the lower left corner, Mihrab, in the company of Zal’s father, Sam, is about to join the celebratory party. The numerous torches and candles held by attendants and servants indicate that the event takes place at night.

  • Bowl with Enthroned Ruler and Courtiers

    Bowl with Enthroned Ruler and Courtiers

    An enthroned ruler with attendants occupies the center of this bowl. Pairs of birds are positioned above and below the group. On the walls of the vessel, encircling the central scene, are seated figures, also in pairs (the single individual results from a modern repair with an alien sherd). The interior rim of the bowl is decorated with a repeating pseudo-inscription in Kufic script, and the plain white walls of the exterior with a cursive inscription, large portions of which are overpainted restoration. The bowl has been assembled from several fragments, with painted plaster used to fill in the losses.

  • Rustam's Seventh Course: He Slays the White Demon (painting, recto; text, verso), illustrated folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Rustam's Seventh Course: He Slays the White Demon (painting, recto; text, verso), illustrated folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    The great hero Rustam had to perform a series of labors to free the king of Iran, Kay Kavus, who had been captured by the evil Ahriman. This illustrated folio depicts Rustam’s seventh and last feat, in which he vanquished the fearsome demon known as the White Div. Advised by his captive guide, Awlad, to ambush the monster in his cave during the day (since demons prefer to sleep when the sun is hot), Rustam tied Awlad to a tree for safekeeping, drew his sword, and killed the lesser demons who were guarding the White Div’s lair. In the darkness of the cave, the hero encountered the monstrous demon, and the two fought fiercely until Rustam managed to maim the creature and plunge a dagger into his chest, extracting his liver. The painting focuses on Rustam’s moment of triumph. At the center, the hero, wearing his famous tiger-skin coat and leopard helmet, stabs his enemy. All around him lie the scattered body parts of the dead demons and the severed limbs of the White Div himself. Rustam, in contrast, appears unharmed, even though the text states that he was wounded. Around the cave are a number of surviving demons, as well as Awlad, tied to a tree. Rustam’s magnificent horse, Rakhsh, awaits his master at the left.

  • Recumbent Lioness

    Recumbent Lioness

    The subject of the recumbent lioness is known from a corpus of drawings and paintings executed during the late Timurid and Safavid periods. With slight variations, these artworks depict the lioness in a pose of relaxation, tethered by a chain attached to a belled collar. The drawings share a technique that uses stippling or short lines (without hatching) to convey the contours and mass of the lioness as well as the texture of her coat. In this example, fine lines and dots of reddish brown, black, and white have been applied over the ivory-colored paper. Around the muzzle, ear tips, belly, and rump, white opaque watercolor is introduced, contrasting with the lines and dots and lending the drawing greater depth. The lioness’s eyes, collar, and chain are accented with gold. Now mounted on a sheet of modern paper, the drawing lacks any trace of a signature or attribution, but it can be linked through a sequence of closely related works to a prototype originated by the renowned artist Kamal al-Din Bihzad (d. 1535–36). Two extant examples carry credible attributions to Bizhad, and more are either ascribed to him or signed by other artists, such as Murad or Shah Muhammad Isfahani. Judging by the number of imitative responses, the recumbent lioness was one of Bihzad’s most appreciated artworks, whose resonance endured into the seventeenth century.

  • Dish with Peonies

    Dish with Peonies

    If the cobalt used to decorate Yuan and early Ming blue-and- white porcelains was initially imported from Iran, then Chinese potters more than repaid the favor in the form of exported decorative motifs. Avidly collected in Islamic lands, Chinese blue-and- white porcelain wares exerted enormous influence on Muslim potters of the fifteenth through the seventeenth century. Produced in northeastern Iran in the second half of the fifteenth century, this impressive dish combines decorative solutions developed during the reign of two dynasties in China. Antecedents for the “wave and crest” motif along the rim and the “double scroll” on the outside wall can be found in Yuan (1271–1368) blue-and- white wares, while the fleshy peonies in the center derive from Ming (1368–1644) prototypes. The curiously restless and asymmetrical nature of the interior composition results from the zones of the circle being divided into odd and even units—three peonies in the center, eight floral sprays along the wall, and six wave-and-crest motifs on the rim. Although the glaze has deteriorated somewhat, this dish is overall in fine condition. Put back together from a few large fragments, it has minimal losses.

  • Bowl Inscribed with a Saying of 'Ali ibn Abi Talib

    Bowl Inscribed with a Saying of 'Ali ibn Abi Talib

    Written around the rim of this bowl in a “new style” Kufic, with ascenders deflected abruptly to the left, is an epigram in Arabic attributed to Ali ibn Abi Talib, the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, praising knowledge and manly virtue: “Knowledge is the noblest of personal qualities, and love is the highest of pedigrees”. Pear-shaped ornament rising out of the last letter of the last word marks the end of the inscription. Written across the center is a single Arabic word, ahmad, which appears frequently on Samanid epigraphic bowls. In this context it is usually construed not as the signature of a potter but as a blessing: “most praiseworthy.” Proverbs praising knowledge and exhorting the owner to various forms of virtuous conduct appear frequently on these elegantly inscribed epigraphic wares, suggesting that they were appreciated by a class of users who placed high value on learning and ethical behavior. On the interior and exterior of this well-potted bowl, the entire pinkish-buff ceramic body, including the beveled, slightly concave base, has been covered in white slip and clear glaze. The vessel is fragmentary; the last word of the inscription has been partially reconstructed on a plaster fill.

  • Double page: The Trial by Fire of Siyavush (painting, verso; text, recto), left-hand side of a double-page painting from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Double page: The Trial by Fire of Siyavush (painting, verso; text, recto), left-hand side of a double-page painting from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    This painting is part of a double-page composition that depicts the redemption of prince Siyavush, son of the Iranian king Kay Kavus. When Siyavush rebuffed the advances of his stepmother, Sudaba, she accused him of attempting to rape her. The king, after conducting an inconclusive investigation, asked both Sudaba and Siyavush to undergo a trial by fire. Sudaba refused; Siyavush agreed and emerged from the burning pyre unscathed and triumphant. The painting on the left shows Siyavush galloping on his black horse through the engulfing flames. The king, also mounted, watches intently from the rocks above. On the right is the brightly tiled royal palace, from which Sudaba, finger to mouth, peers down in amazement. Wide illuminated borders, here consisting of geometric compartments, surround the composition.

  • Story of Farangis (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Story of Farangis (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Estranged from his father Kay Kavus, Siyavush temporarily enjoyed the hospitality of the Turanian ruler Afrasiyab and took his daughter, Farangis, as one of his wives. Later, overcome by fear of ill-omens and the jealousy of his courtiers, Afrasiyab ordered the execution of the Iranian prince. Grabbing the young prince, Gurvi cut his throat, catching the blood in a golden dish. Siyavush met death bravely, knowing that Farangis would soon give birth to a son (Kay Khusraw)who would unite the lands of Turan and Iran under one crown.

  • Rustam and the Iranians Hunt in Afrasiyab’s Preserves (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Rustam and the Iranians Hunt in Afrasiyab’s Preserves (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Verso: The text corresponds with Mohl, vol. 2, lines 518 - 572. The verses describe Kay Kavus regretting his foolish exploits, the gathering of the Champions, and their hunting expedition.

  • Illuminated frontispiece, right-hand side of a bifolio from a manuscript of the Khulasa al-Akhbar

    Illuminated frontispiece, right-hand side of a bifolio from a manuscript of the Khulasa al-Akhbar

    Together with # 2002.50.126, these pages served as the opening to a manuscript of the Khulasat al-akhbar (Quintessence of Histories), the first historical work of Ghiyath al-Din ibn Humam al-Din Khvandamir, composed in 1499–1500 in Herat. The work is an abridged version of the Rawdat al-safa (Garden of Purity), by the famous Timurid historian Mirkhvand, who was Khvandamir’s grandfather. The text of this frontispiece, written in white nasta'liq script, conveys blessings and gives the title of the work and a very short description of its nature: that it presents, “in the best words of historians, the annals of prophets and kings, starting with Adam.” The rich illumination combines floral scrollwork, cloudbands, and abstract medallion-and-pendant and trefoil forms on a blue-and-gold ground. The pages mirror each other, forming a lavish introduction to the manuscript.

  • Qaydafa Recognizes Iskandar from His Portrait (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Qaydafa Recognizes Iskandar from His Portrait (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Queen Qaydafa was the ruler of Andalusia. She was wise, just, prosperous, and admired by her subjects. Upon hearing of the victories and success of Iskandar (Alexander the Great), she ordered her painter to gain surreptitious access to the eminent king, study him carefully, and produce a detailed, full-length portrait of him, to supplement the portraits of great rulers she already possessed. Following his conquests in the east, Iskandar sent Qaydafa a letter demanding her immediate and unconditional submission, which she refused. When Iskandar, disguised as his own messenger, appeared at her court, the queen recognized him and countered his denials of his royal identity with the portrait made by her artist. After the two conversed and recognized their mutual wisdom and talents, Iskandar returned to his land with gifts, having learned an invaluable lesson. The illustration captures the moment when Iskandar, shown sitting on a golden seat in front of Qaydafa, sees his portrait. Even though the text calls for him to be in disguise as a messenger, he wears a crown like the one in the painting he is examining. The queen, in a golden diadem, gestures toward Iskandar from her large throne. The protagonists are surrounded by the queen’s female retinue, who peek at the painting and talk to one another. Although, according to the text, the episode takes place at the Andalusian court, the illustration has transformed the setting into a fifteenth-century Iranian or Central Asian palace.

  • Illuminated title page: opening verses of the Shahnama, folio from a manuscript of the Shanama by Firdawsi

    Illuminated title page: opening verses of the Shahnama, folio from a manuscript of the Shanama by Firdawsi

    The verso of this folio features a richly illuminated taj, or crown-like element, at the top and a cartouche below it that contains the title of the work, inscribed in white: “Book of the Shahnama.” The text, with the beginning of Firdawsi’s prologue to the epic, is written in black nasta'liq in “cloud” reserves against a gold background filled with tiny flowers.

  • Rustam Fending off the Rock Dropped by Bahman (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Rustam Fending off the Rock Dropped by Bahman (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    King Gushtasp sent his son Isfandiyar to bring the mighty hero Rustam to court in chains, promising Isfandiyar the throne if he could accomplish this feat. Searching for Rustam, Isfandiyar’s son Bahman came upon the hero roasting an onager in his hunting grounds and decided to kill him immediately, sparing his father a dangerous confrontation. From the top of a mountain he pried loose a large boulder and sent it rolling downhill toward Rustam, whose brother Zavara heard the noise and cried out in warning. Rather than move, however, the hero calmly waited until the stone was nearly upon him and then kicked it away. Impressed by Rustam’s power, Bahman approached him and told him of Isfandiyar’s mission. In the painting, Rustam is shown at the crucial moment of danger, yet, as the text describes, he remains seated, roasting his supper on a spit and merely stretching out his leg to kick away the large rock. Next to him his horse, Rakhsh, grazes undisturbed. Rustam’s hunting party rounds the horizon at the upper right, unaware of the incident, but two figures at the lower left witness and point at the scene. From behind the rocky ridge on the left, Bahman looks on, his finger to his mouth in astonishment. Animals, birds, and flowers rendered in delicate detail provide a soothing contrast to this tense moment of drama.

  • Praise for Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Praise for Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    The first narrative in the Shahnama, the story of Gayumars represents the beginning of civilization. Gayumars, the figure seated on a tiger skin, was anointed the first shah when the sun shed its luster on him. As depicted in this painting, his reign was a golden age, with the sun smiling down on the mountaintop kingdom. Evil soon appeared in the form of the demon Ahriman and his wolf-like son (upper left), enemies of everything in the world that was fine and noble.

  • Court of Gayumars (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Court of Gayumars (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Gayumars was the legendary first king of Iran, associated with the beginning of civilization and an organized social order. He and his people lived in the mountains and wore clothes made of leopard skins. The court was prosperous and his subjects content: animals and humans alike obeyed the king, who was blessed with divine power (farr). Gayumars had a son, Siyamak, whom he adored and who was loved by all save a jealous creature called Ahriman. The large and densely detailed illustration shows the king, seated on a tiger skin, attended by his court; like him, they are dressed in leopard pelts. Siyamak sits to the left of Gayumars, and the two are encircled by courtiers and animals. The rocks of their mountain home have human faces, as does a sun that shines from behind a crag in the upper left corner. Near the sun, a demonic figure peers at a bear hurling a rock. Such playful vignettes are characteristic of Persianate painting of the time and can also be found in the illustrations of the Shahnama made for the Safavid ruler Shah Tahmasp. The red demon may represent Ahriman, the enemy of humankind.

  • Story of Kay Khusraw Reviewing his Army, and Tus Leading the Iranians into Turan (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Story of Kay Khusraw Reviewing his Army, and Tus Leading the Iranians into Turan (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Text page concerning Kay Khusraw preparing the army and Tus, with his troops, marching on Turan. Recto. Text corresponds with Ramazani (1963) vol. 2, pp. 95-97, lines 2273 - 2335; text describes Kay Khusraw setting his army in order. Verso. Text corresponds with Ramazani (1963) vol. 2, pp. 97 - 100, lines, 2336 - 2406; subtitles in text read, "Mobilization of Tus to Turan," and Departure of Tus and his army."

  • Guruy Executes Siyavush (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Guruy Executes Siyavush (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Succumbing to his own foreboding and the envy of his courtiers toward Siyavush, Afrasiyab eventually ordered the execution of the Iranian prince whom he had welcomed into his family. Happy to oblige the monarch, jealous Guruy cut the prince’s throat, catching his blood in a golden basin. Siyavush met death bravely, knowing that his wife Farangis would soon give birth to a son, Kay Khusraw, who would unite the lands of Turan and Iran under one crown. While the text indicates that the execution took place in a wasteland outside Siyavush’s capital city, the illustration sets the scene within the confines of a palace crowded with figures, including an enthroned Afrasiyab, court officials, and Farangis, who is being seized as a captive. The illustration shows the dramatic moment when Siyavush’s blood gushes forth into the basin.

  • Story of Bahman Seeking Rustam and Launching a Boulder toward Him (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Story of Bahman Seeking Rustam and Launching a Boulder toward Him (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Text folio with title “Bahman arrives at the hunting ground of Rustam and Zal” and a second title, now illegible Verso. Text corresponds with Mohl, vol. 4, pp. 586-589, lines 2698 - 2728; text describes Bahman meeting Zal, seeking and sizing up Rustam who is cooking an onager, and then launching a boulder towards him from the mountain-top, hoping to slay him.

  • Sultan Sanjar and the Old Woman (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Khamsa (Makhsan al-Asrar) by Nizami

    Sultan Sanjar and the Old Woman (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Khamsa (Makhsan al-Asrar) by Nizami

    Makhzan al-asrar contains stories dealing with religious and moral values, worldly power, and spiritual concerns. This episode of Nizami’s poem tells of an old woman who complained to the Seljuk ruler Sultan Sanjar (d. 1157) about the harsh treatment that she had received from his police. After recounting the physical and mental suffering inflicted on her by Sanjar’s men, she proceeded to describe the immoral conduct of the ruler himself and the disapproval of his subjects throughout the empire, warning him that his tyranny and lack of justice would lead to his demise. In this illustration, the sultan is shown astride his horse and surrounded by the men of his retinue, one of whom shades him with a parasol. The old woman approaches, and she and the sultan gesture with extended arms, indicating that they are conversing. Although she is the subject of Nizami's story, she is a minor figure in this painting, which is dominated by the image of Sultan Sanjar. The episode takes place in a flowery green meadow, behind which is a hill with rocky outcroppings that suggest human faces—a common convention in Safavid painting.

  • Story of Piran Convincing Siyavush to Take Farangis as his Wife (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Story of Piran Convincing Siyavush to Take Farangis as his Wife (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Estranged from his father (Kay Kavus), Prince Siyavush temporarily enjoyed the hospitality of the Turanian ruler Afrasiyab. At the urging of the Turanian commander-in-chief Piran, Siyavush asked for the hand of the king's daughter. Despite Afrasiyab's misgivings, he agreed to give the beautiful princess Farangis to Siyavush. In this painting, Farangis is receiving lavish wedding presents from Gulshahr, Piran's wife. The crowned man seated on a throne may be Afrasiyab.

  • Episodes from the Story of Hurmuzd (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Episodes from the Story of Hurmuzd (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Text folio with title “A brand is applied to King Hurmuzd’s eyes” Recto. Text corresponds with Ramazani (1963) vol. 5, pp. 77-79, lines 1870 - 1925; text describes Hurmuzd sending Ayin Gashasp with an army to fight against Bahram Chubina, and how he was slain by his comrade. Verso. Text corresponds with Ramazani (1963) vol. 5, pp. 79-81, lines 1926-1977; text describes how Hurmuzd was blinded by Bandawi and Gustaham.

  • Figurine of a Horse and Rider

    Figurine of a Horse and Rider

  • Shapur with the Daughter of Mihrak (text, recto; painting, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Shapur with the Daughter of Mihrak (text, recto; painting, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    According to Firdawsi’s narrative, Prince Shapur, on a hunting trip, stopped to rest in a charming village where, at a well in a splendid garden, he saw a beautiful young woman drawing water. She offered to water his horses, but Shapur refused her help, saying that his men could perform the task. As they struggled to bring up the heavy bucket, the prince asked the woman about her family. When he learned that she was the daughter of his enemy Mihrak Nushzad and had been brought to the village for safekeeping, he decided to marry her immediately. In this illustration, Shapur and the daughter of Mihrak, standing in a blooming garden, gesture toward each other, while Shapur’s men are grouped on the right. Absent here are depictions of the well and of vessels for carrying water, which appear in other illustrations of the same story. Recto. Subtitles in the text of this folio read, "Ardashir sends a message to Kayd of India." Text corresponds with M. Ramazani (1963) vol. 4, pp. 121-22, lines 2893-2938; subtitle reads, "Ardashir sends a message to Kayd of India." Text corresponds with J. Mohl (1976), vol. 5, pp.342-46, lines 132-176. Mohl subtitle reads, " Shapour joue à la balle et est reconnu par Ardeshir," Ardeshir se fait prédire son sort par Keid l'Indien." Verso. Subtitle in the text of this folio reads, "Ardashir and Hurmuzd Go Hunting." The subtitle on the verso of this folio does not describe the painted image of Shapur and the daughter of Mihrak. Text corresponds with M. Ramazani (1963) vol. 4, pp. 122-24, lines 2939-2971. Text corresponds with J. Mohl (1976), vol. 5, pp.346-50, lines 177-209. Mohl subtitle reads, "Schapour épouse la fille de Mihrek."

  • Lovers Embracing, folio from an album

    Lovers Embracing, folio from an album

    To make this drawing, the artist used three colors of ink: black and red for the figures, and gold for the wispy, swaying trees and flowering plants of the outdoor setting. Gold also highlights robe lapels and buttons, trouser hems, turban trim, and the accoutrements of wine drinking—a small cup and a tall-necked ewer. The lining of the woman’s robe is filled in with blue; used together with white, this pigment defines the bowl behind the ewer as a blue-and-white ceramic (likely Iranian-made imitation porcelain). The primary subject of the drawing is one of intimate, private bliss: a man lovingly embraces a woman, hugging her around the waist and lifting her from the ground, while she in turn snatches the turban from his head and carelessly upends her wine cup. Despite its individualized charm, this depiction of a loving couple represents a fairly common type. It shares with other drawings of the period, also classifiable by their human subjects, key elements of artistic execution—sinuous, carefully weighted contour outlines, “check marks” terminating knotted and bunched textiles, and fine stippling applied only to faces and hair—each element showing the artist’s fluency in a particular drafting technique.

  • Khusraw Parviz Enthroned in a Garden (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Khusraw Parviz Enthroned in a Garden (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Khusraw Parviz (r. 591–628) was the last major ruler of the Sasanian dynasty before the Muslim conquest of Iran. The scene shows the young ruler on a throne in an open garden, surrounded by his retinue. Three high-ranking officials are seated on a carpet at the left, while two others stand behind them. The king’s sword bearer and falconer are depicted on the right, and servants and musicians appear in the foreground. This illustration reflects the standard iconography of Central Asian and Persian audience scenes or official celebrations. The doll-like, apple-cheeked figures and robustly curling clouds are characteristic of the late fifteenth-century painting style favored by the Aq Qoyunlu Turkman rulers of Shiraz. Unfortunately, a later hand has largely obliterated the finely textured, grassy ground cover.

  • Isfandiyar Captures Gurgsar in Combat (text, recto; painting, verso), illustrated folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Isfandiyar Captures Gurgsar in Combat (text, recto; painting, verso), illustrated folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Recto. Text tells the story of Isfandiyar seeing his brother and his arrival in the mountains near Gushtasp. Subtitles in the text of this folio read, "Arrival of Isfandiyar to converse with this father;" Arjasp is informed of the release of Isfandiyar." Text corresponds with M. Ramazani (1963) vol. 3, pp. 249-51, lines 5946-6035. Ramazani subtitle reads, "Isfandiyar arrives in the mountains near Gushtasp." Text corresponds with J. Mohl (1976), vol. 4, pp. 470-76, lines 1321-1405. Mohl subtitle reads, "Isfendiar arrive dans la montagne, auprès de Guschtasp." Verso. Subtitles in the text of this folio read, "Battle between Arjasp and Isfandiyar;" "Capture of Gurgsar by Isfandiyar." Gurgsar is the name of a champion of Turan. Text corresponds with M. Ramazani (1963) vol. 3, pp. 253-56, lines 6036-6113. Ramazani subtitle reads, "Battle between Isfandiyar and Arjasp and the escape of Arjasp." Text corresponds with J. Mohl (1976), vol. 4, pp. 476-82, lines 1406-1468.

  • Afrasiyab and Siyavush Embrace (painting, recto; text, verso), illustrated folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Afrasiyab and Siyavush Embrace (painting, recto; text, verso), illustrated folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    In this part of Firdawsi’s epic, the Iranian king Kay Kavus decided to wage war against Turan (Turkestan), even though his son, prince Siyavush, had signed a treaty with the Turanian king, Afrasiyab. Siyavush chose to disregard his father’s orders and accept Afrasiyab’s invitation to visit Turan and take refuge in the realm, thereby averting yet another war between Iran and Turan. This folio was part of a famous illustrated manuscript of the Shahnama produced at the Safavid court during the 1520s and 1530s. Known as the Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp, after the ruler (r. 1524–76) for whom it was made, the book originally consisted of 759 text folios and 258 paintings of superb quality. This illustration portrays a moment of optimism and brotherhood between the Turanians and the Iranians. Having dismounted from their horses, Afrasiyab and Siyavush embrace, to the delight of their attendants and supporters. Piran, Afrasiyab’s aged advisor, who has played an important role in fostering a relationship of trust between the former foes, stands on the left, a white-bearded figure witnessing the exchange of affection. The emotional scene takes place in front of a colorfully decorated palatial structure that likely reflects contemporary Safavid architecture. The headgear of all the figures, Iranians and Turanians alike, consists of turbans folded around caps with tall red projections (taj-i Haydari). These distinctive turbans were worn by the followers of Tahmasp and suggest a sense of identification with the Shahnama at the Safavid court. Recto. Subtitles in the text of this folio read, "Afrasiyab receives Siyavush in Turkistan." Text corresponds with M. Ramazani (1963) vol.1, p. 466, lines 11541-11553. Ramazani subtitle reads, "Afrasiyab receives Siyavush." Text corresponds with J. Mohl (1976), vol. 2, pp. 308-310, lines 1350-1361. Mohl subtitle reads, "Entrevue de Siawusch et d'Afrasiab." Verso. Text corresponds with M. Ramazani (1963) vol. 1, pp. 466-68, lines 11554-11609. Ramazani subtitles read, "Siyavush displays his prowess in the square." Text corresponds with J. Mohl (1976), vol. 2, pp. 310-314, lines 1362-1408. Mohl subtitles read, "Siawusch montre son adresse devant Afrasiab."

  • Fragmentary Star Tile with Lovers

    Fragmentary Star Tile with Lovers

    This fragmentary tile, reassembled from four pieces, depicts a narrative scene closely related to those in contemporary and later manuscript paintings.Through an archway, a couple is shown in bed under a patterned cover. A tall candle in a plaited metal candlestick illuminates the interior of the room, and a similarly ornamented ewer appears further to the right. The partially visible bow and arrows likely belong to the man and indicate his princely activities. The fish at the bottom of the scene and the flowers sprouting above the couple create a dreamlike ambience. A figure, likely a servant, stands at left, perhaps outside the room. Bordering the scene, a Persian inscription, reserved in white on a blue ground, is partially legible. Starting at the break on the left, it reads, . . . wings were broken. . . . from the prince, felicity came to me. Even if fate is not auspicious, give in to your destiny. Eight-pointed star tiles like this one were combined with other tiles of cruciform shape to create shimmering revetments for palaces and religious buildings. Although figural tiles were used in both secular and religious contexts, the intimate nature of the scene depicted here would have made this tile more appropriate for a palace interior.

  • Small Bowl of

    Small Bowl of "Gambroon ware"

    With its exceptionally thin potting and near-translucent, pure white fabric, this small bowl belongs to a category of fine ceramics popularly known as “Gombroon wares.” The bowl has rounded walls, a slightly everted rim, and a low foot ring glazed in the center. A small depression inside the foot ring perfectly fits the middle finger, ensuring that the bowl balances easily in the user’s hand. On the interior of the bowl, this depression forms a small boss, on or around which the underglaze painting is applied. The delicate potting is emphasized by openwork patterns pierced through the walls and filled with clear glaze, reviving a technique practiced in the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The bowl is broken and has been put back together, with small plaster fills in the walls. The designation “Gombroon wares” reflects the impact of European trade in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. These vessels were exported to Europe from an Iranian port town at the entrance to the Persian Gulf, Bandar Abbas, which was known to the European trading companies as Gombroon, Gamrun, or Gamru. From European primary sources and a handful of dated objects, it can be deduced that the production period for Gombroon wares stretched from at least the 1690s into the early 1800s. Bandar Abbas served as the terminal point of trade routes originating at Yazd and Kirman to the north and Lar, Shiraz, and Isfahan to the northwest. It has been suggested that the production site for these wares was Nain (a small town due east of Isfahan), where a similar highly vitrified fritware was made in the nineteenth century.

  • Flat-Rimmed Bowl with Radial Design

    Flat-Rimmed Bowl with Radial Design

    Radial lines divide the interior of this bowl into twelve sections, which are decorated with three different designs—foliate motifs, cursive forms, and series of dots and fine lines. A narrow band encircles the bowl just under the flat, patterned rim. Circling the upper exterior is a cobalt-blue pseudo-inscription; below this is another band containing black scrollwork roundels.The foliate and line-and-dot motifs of this bowl, as well as the use and placement of cobalt, recall the lusterwares of the Seljuk-Atabeg period. Those prestigious vessels likely provided design inspiration for less expensive underglaze-painted wares like this one, which typifies Ilkhanid bowls in shape and decoration. Although the glaze has suffered abrasion and is cracked in several places, the bowl itself is intact.

  • Ten-sided Bowl with High Foot

    Ten-sided Bowl with High Foot

    On the interior, this bowl is divided into ten radial sections, corresponding with its sides, that feature two alternating designs. One is pseudo-calligraphic, proceeding from the center of the bowl to the rim, with horizontal elements contracting and verticals expanding. The other design is tripartite and abstract. The intricacy and dark coloration of the interior contrast with the cheerful simplicity of the outside, where the white ceramic body remains more visible through a surface embellishment of lines and dots. The shape and decoration of this bowl are common among wares attributed to the Ilkhanid period, although their production place has not been definitively established.

  • Bowl with Bird and Flowers

    Bowl with Bird and Flowers

    The decoration on the interior of this vessel is characteristic of slip-painted wares now generally attributed to workshops in a region south of the Caspian Sea. Typically, as here, the design of these bowls is dominated by a single large, leftward-facing bird with distended belly, elaborately crested head, and two-colored, bifurcated tail. Birds and surrounding flowers are often outlined in a darker color that may be topped with tiny white dots; white dots also accent dark spots on the bird’s body. Off-white slip and green-tinged glaze completely coat the interior of this bowl. On the exterior, the slip only patchily covers the walls, and the glaze is restricted to the area around the rim. The concave base is uncoated. The bowl has been reassembled from about ten fragments, with plaster replacing losses in the lower left quadrant of the center, and it retains earlier and rather awkward overpainting of the bird’s lower belly and legs.

  • Burzuy Brings Nushirvan the Book of Kalila and Dimna  (painting, recto; text, verso), Illustrated folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Burzuy Brings Nushirvan the Book of Kalila and Dimna (painting, recto; text, verso), Illustrated folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    The tale of how the collection of fables Kalila and Dimna was transmitted from India to Iran appears in the Shahnama in the section recounting the life and rule of Khusraw Anushirvan. Given leave by the king, the learned physician Burzoy journeyed to India in search of the plant of eternal life. After arriving at the Indian court, however, Burzoy came to understand that it was not a magical plant but rather a book called Kalila and Dimna that contained the transformative wisdom he sought. Forbidden to take notes as he read, he memorized parts of the book by day and transcribed them secretly by night, sending his transcriptions back to Anushirvan. Upon his return to Iran, Burzoy was received with great honor at the court. Free to choose his reward, he asked that the story of his adventure be included as a preface in the vizier Buzurgmihr’s translation into Pahlavi (Middle Persian) of the Kalila and Dimna. This painting, of a seemingly generic reception scene at the Safavid court, focuses only subtly on the story of Burzoy. King Anushirvan is shown seated on his throne, surrounded by attendants and officials; courtiers engage in animated conversations and women watch from their apartments. At center left, however, a young man is busy writing: he probably represents Buzurgmihr, Anushirvan’s brilliant vizier, who is copying either the text of Kalila and Dimna or Burzoy’s story. Burzuy is likely the bearded man sitting opposite him on the right. The exaggerated white turbans worn by the male courtiers and attendants in this painting reflect Iranian headgear fashionable in the early seventeenth century. Recto: Text tells the story of Barzui reading and memorizing chapters of Kalila and Dimna. Text corresponds with M. Ramazani (1963) vol. 4, p. 512, lines 12238-12242; Text corresponds with J. Mohl (1976), vol. 6, p. 452, lines 3517-3522. In Warner & Warner, text begins vol. 7, p. 423. Warner's subtitle for Section 4 reads, "How Nushirwan sent Barzwi, the Leech, to Hindustan to fetch a wondrous Drug, and how Barzwi brought back the book of Kalila and Dimna." Verso. Kisra is the title of the kings of the Sasanian dynasty, especially Anushirvan. Text corresponds with M. Ramazani (1963) vol. 4, pp. 512-14, lines 12244-12298. Subtitles in the text of this folio read, "Buzurgmihr tied up by Kisra." Text corresponds with J. Mohl (1976), vol. 6, pp. 452-456, lines 3523-3570. Mohl subtitles read, "Nouschirwan se met en colère contre Buzurdgmihr et le fait enchaîner."

  • Albarello

    Albarello

    This albarello, or medicine jar, is glazed in deep cobalt blue and decorated in yellow luster with little sheen. A band of vertical lines and stripes—perhaps meant to evoke the upright letters of Kufic inscriptions— encircles the upper half of the body, and floral tendrils occupy the lower half; in certain areas this luster decoration can no longer be seen. Repeating circular forms embellish the shoulder of the jar; the neck features vertical stripes. The blue glaze ends thickly above the foot.

  • The Death of Luhrasp in Battle against the Forces of Arjasp (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    The Death of Luhrasp in Battle against the Forces of Arjasp (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Luhrasp, Kay Khusraw’s successor as king of Iran, ceded the throne to his son Gushtasp and became a Zoroastrian devotee in the city of Balkh. But when the new Turanian king, Arjasp, ordered his son Kuhram to lead the Turanians against Iran, the elderly former king met them in battle and was slain. According to the text, Luhrasp fends off individual attackers and is killed only when surrounded by his foes. Not until they remove the fallen warrior’s helmet and see his white hair do the Turanians realize that he is an old man. The artist has composed this scene symmetrically, crowding the background with two groups of warriors who proudly fly their banners and sound their trumpets.

  • Bowl with Standing Figure Holding a Bottle

    Bowl with Standing Figure Holding a Bottle

    This small bowl, reconstructed from about ten fragments, depicts a standing female figure. Half of her head, starting at the widow’s peak, and the top portion of the implement in her raised hand are now plaster fill. The woman has long, wavy hair and wears earrings and tiraz armbands. She carries a globular bottle, which again signals the courtly enjoyment of intoxicating beverages. Leaves of elongated teardrop form and a field of V-shaped marks fill the space around her. The luster decoration on the exterior consists of concentric circles amid dots and dashes. The bottom of the foot is glazed and marked with four dabs of luster.

  • Flat-Rimmed Bowl with Bird in Foliage

    Flat-Rimmed Bowl with Bird in Foliage

    A large crane-like bird with bent neck and raised leg dominates the interior of this bowl. The dense foliage around the bird includes lotus blossoms, trademark motifs of Ilkhanid wares. Encircling the exterior beneath the rim is a band of vertical white stripes outlined in black; more widely spaced white stripes decorate the lower portion. The white slip decoration stands slightly in relief; the interior is enlivened with dots of cobalt blue, which have run. The clear, greenish-tinged glaze has pooled at the center of the bowl and has deteriorated on the exterior. Once assigned to Sultanabad, in western Iran, bowls with this shape and dense foliate decoration were common in the Ilkhanid period.

  • Bowl with Black Foliate Arabesque and Pseudo-Inscription

    Bowl with Black Foliate Arabesque and Pseudo-Inscription

    At the center of this bowl, a freely painted, leafy arabesque grows out of a six-lobed core. Around the walls a rhythmic pseudo-epigraphic band radiates upward, and triangular dabs of black ring the rim. On the exterior, willow-reed motifs alternate with pairs of tapering, vertical stripes. At some point in the past, this bowl was reassembled from fragments and overpainted to integrate the plaster fills. The turquoise glaze covers the interior and exterior, stopping well short of the foot ring, which has an unusual taper.

  • Small Bowl with Quadruped and Inscription

    Small Bowl with Quadruped and Inscription

    The Arabic word for “blessing” (baraka) is written twice below the curious four-legged beast that fills this small bowl. The slender legs of the animal and its hooves with dewclaws probably indicate that it was intended to be a deer, a creature admired for its beauty and prized by hunters as game. Its neck, head, and upper back are an early restoration, poorly painted on plaster fill.

  • Jug with Birds and Inscription Bands

    Jug with Birds and Inscription Bands

    The lower part of this jug is decorated with repeating arch-like forms enclosing long-necked birds facing left. An illegible inscription in Persian encircles the shoulder. Above this are foliate designs and roundels containing leftward-facing birds similar to the others. Used either as filler or as part of figural compositions, birds are a common motif in Iranian lusterware. The neck of the jug is decorated with two bands of illegible Kufic script separated by a band of swirling tendrils. White glaze covers the body of the vessel but ends in thick droplets short of the base. On one side of the jug the luster retains a dark red cast; elsewhere it is yellowish and, in the areas of the handle and mouth, shows considerable abrasion.

  • High-Footed Dish with Two Horsemen

    High-Footed Dish with Two Horsemen

    Two horsemen face each other from opposite sides of a central, checkered tree. The luster decoration on this bowl is so freely painted that the dotted pattern of the cavaliers’ garments merges with the foliate background. The figural scene is bordered above and below by scalloped segments filled with vertical stripes and, at the bottom, by a frieze of cursory pendants. An angular pseudo-inscription runs around the rim. The figural imagery of this bowl has close affinities with that of minai wares. Its sketchily applied decoration and somewhat confused background details put it into the category of luster ceramics exhibiting the so-called miniature style. The loosely painted scrolls on the outside of this bowl closely resemble the exterior ornamentation of several other luster vessels in the collection. Glaze only partially covers the high foot, one area of which exhibits some blue staining. The bowl has been reassembled from several pieces; its reddish luster has turned greenish in one section.

  • Ewer with Peacocks

    Ewer with Peacocks

    This purple-glazed ewer has a bulbous body and a tapering neck with a wide, flaring mouth. Its relief decoration features a broad band of confronting peacocks, their necks intertwined, alternating with pear-shaped floral motifs. Above this main band is a narrower one with scrolling vines. The foot of the ewer has been left unglazed. On one section of the peacock band the glaze has pooled, perhaps due to an error in the firing process. The vessel has been repaired, especially in the area of the mouth.

  • Majnun in the Wilderness, from Layla va Majnun

    Majnun in the Wilderness, from Layla va Majnun

    In the tragic romance between Layla and Qays (later known as majnun—“mad” or “possessed”), the two met and fell in love as schoolchildren. Layla’s father rejected Qays’s marriage proposal and separated the pair, and, on his orders, Layla married another man. Majnun, suffering the pain of unfulfilled love, felt that he could no longer be part of human society and became a recluse in the desert wilderness, living among the animals, who accepted his behavior and understood his agony. Although married, Layla remained faithful to Majnun and confined herself to writing poetry. In the tragic conclusion to the story, Majnun died on his beloved’s grave. The artist of this painting has illustrated an episode in which Majnun’s maternal uncle, Shaykh Salim, visits the love-stricken man in the desert and pleads with him to return to his former life and family. Majnun is shown half naked, a piece of blue cloth tied around his waist, embracing and talking to a deer. Salim, fully clothed in a long brown coat and a white turban, gestures to his nephew. The landscape setting represents a desert oasis with a stream, trees, grass, and flowers. Majnun and Salim are surrounded by animals, most of them in pairs whose members interact with each other, reinforcing the viewer’s impression of Majnun’s lonely solitude.

  • Kay Khusraw Reviews His Troops (painting, verso; text, recto), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Kay Khusraw Reviews His Troops (painting, verso; text, recto), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Kay Khusraw, grown to manhood and now king of Iran, prepared to mount a campaign against the Turanian murderers of his father, Siyavush. Seated on a jeweled throne atop his mammoth war elephant, he rode out to review his army. The great imperial warriors, including Fariburz and Gudarz, filed past. The illustration portrays Kay Khusraw in a lavish howdah; he is surrounded by mounted soldiers with colorfully caparisoned horses and gold and silver weapons and helmets.

  • Double page: The Trial by Fire of Siyavush (painting, verso; text, recto), right-hand side of a double-page painting from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Double page: The Trial by Fire of Siyavush (painting, verso; text, recto), right-hand side of a double-page painting from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    This painting is part of a double-page composition that depicts the redemption of prince Siyavush, son of the Iranian king Kay Kavus. When Siyavush rebuffed the advances of his stepmother, Sudaba, she accused him of attempting to rape her. The king, after conducting an inconclusive investigation, asked both Sudaba and Siyavush to undergo a trial by fire. Sudaba refused; Siyavush agreed and emerged from the burning pyre unscathed and triumphant. The painting on the left shows Siyavush galloping on his black horse through the engulfing flames. The king, also mounted, watches intently from the rocks above. On the right is the brightly tiled royal palace, from which Sudaba, finger to mouth, peers down in amazement. Wide illuminated borders, here consisting of geometric compartments, surround the composition.

  • Courtiers with a Horse and Attendant, folio from an album

    Courtiers with a Horse and Attendant, folio from an album

    This drawing is one of several examples that take members of the Safavid court into the country, here a landscape divided into two parts by the meandering profile of a craggy brown rock. Emphasized by its deep blue color, a pool of water, or perhaps a mountain brook, is set near the center of the composition; behind it is a smaller rock, tinted pale blue as if cooled by the adjacent water. Two trees, one with birds perched in its branches, grow from the main rock; they are defined by delicate line drawing in black ink, augmented by the selective use of gray and red washes. Two men flank the pool: one, with a youthful, trim physique, can be identified as a Safavid prince or ruler. Facing him is an older, bearded, heavy-set man— most likely a guardian and instructor (lala)— who, unlike the royal figure, has a sword and dagger attached to his belt. In their hands, the prince and guardian hold thin objects that extend into the water. They are engaged in fishing.

  • Stamp Seal: Hand

    Stamp Seal: Hand

    Grayish stone stamp seal; device shows hand with a small half moon on one side and a hatched curve below; back of seal incised with a leaf-like pattern. The seal has a dent on one side, there are traces of wear around the edges of the string hole, and the surface is noticeably abraded on the edge around the image. Stone tinged yellow on back of seal.

  • Cylindrical Container with Lid, of

    Cylindrical Container with Lid, of "Ziwiye" Type

    Cylindrical container with lug handles and flat, dome-shaped lid. The container is decorated with a battlement pattern outlined in turquoise and filled with yellow glaze. Spikes project from the battlement above and below, and dots embellish both the pattern itself and the spaces between the spikes. Much of the glaze beyond the central band of the decoration is lost and has been replaced by modern paint. The pierced handles are quite thick and of triangular shape. The lid is pierced at the center and bears a cross-shaped pattern outlined in turquoise and filled with yellow in two of the quadrants. There are turquoise dots in each of the segments. The glaze is largelrgely worn off in the areas that are not yellow.

  • The Execution of Afrasiyab (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    The Execution of Afrasiyab (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    The Turanians were at last defeated in battle, but their king, Afrasiyab, escaped. Eventually Hum, a recluse, discovered Afrasiyab hiding in a cave in the mountains and brought him to Kay Khusraw. In revenge for Siyavush’s murder, the Iranian king put Afrasiyab to death in the same manner, beheading him with a sword and collecting his blood in a basin. Afrasiyab’s brother Garsivaz, who had been present at Siyavush’s execution, was also put to death. The illustration shows the beheading of the old Turanian king, witnessed rather than performed by Kay Khusraw, who sits on a throne surrounded by his retinue. Afrasiyab’s severed head rolls leftward off the carpet. In another departure from the text, the artist has omitted the basin used to catch Afrasiyab’s blood.

  • Rectangular Jar with Lid

    Rectangular Jar with Lid

    Rectangular container with two lug handles and four stumpy feet; rectangular lid slightly domed on top and concave underneath. Whereas the lid's dimensions are similar to those of the container, its appearance is different and it does not fit well, suggesting that it might not belong. The container is decorated with a zigzag pattern in turquoise glaze. Each side has a standing triangle raising from its base; these triangles are white with black dots. A yellow hanging triangle with turquoise dots extends over each corner. The rim and handles are covered in turquoise glaze, which also extends part of the way down on the interior of the container. The pierced handles are slim and rounded. In its current state, the container is composed of numerous fragments; break lines and losses are filled and inpainted. Fills are especially extensive on the upper rim and corners; one of the handles is modern, as well. The decoration on the lid consists of an hourglass and two triangles outlined in turquoise glaze on a white ground. The rim is lined in turquoise and each segment of the pattern contains turquoise dots. The lid is cracked and chipped.

  • Calligraphic Portrait of the Prophet Muhammad (recto); Geneaology of the Prophet Muhammad (verso) , left-hand side of a bifolio from a manuscript

    Calligraphic Portrait of the Prophet Muhammad (recto); Geneaology of the Prophet Muhammad (verso) , left-hand side of a bifolio from a manuscript

    Copied in naskh script by Ismail Bosnavi, these two folios (2002.50.119 and 2002.50.135) contain a hilye (Arabic hilya), or calligraphically rendered description in Arabic of the Prophet Muhammad. The text of the hilye, attributed to Ali, the prophet’s cousin and son-in-law, describes both the physical qualities of the Prophet and his good character. On these pages, this classic text, placed in three roundels (two on the right page and one at the top of the left page) is followed by that of another early Muslim, Jabir ibn Samura: “I saw the Prophet Muhammad at night wearing a red garment and, as I looked at him and at the moon, he appeared more beautiful than the moon.” Beside the large roundels are twelve smaller ones: the one at upper right is inscribed Allah (God), and the rest contain the names of Muhammad (the Prophet); of Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali (the rightly guided caliphs), and of the Prophet’s six companions who first accepted Islam as the true religion. Inscribed in the square enclosures that border the two pages are the ninety-nine names of the Prophet. Both pages are decorated with gilded rulings and freehand floral designs. The back (verso) of the left-hand page records the patrilineal ancestors of the Prophet, starting with Adnan (122 BCE), arranged in the form of a tree. Adnan’s name appears at the base of the trunk and Muhammad’s at the top of the tree, within a domed frame suggestive of an Ottoman mosque. The branches of the tree terminate in ten roundels that contain the names of companions who shared Muhammad’s ancestors. Gold floral designs fill the area beneath the branches. The calligrapher’s name appears at the bottom of the page. The calligrapher Ismail [bin Ibrahim] Bosnavi (from Bosnia) was the son of Noktaci-zade, the top finance officer (defterdar) of Eger, in Hungary. He received his training at the Ottoman court school for the gifted(enderun), in the seferli division, a teaching center for various arts. Specializing in thuluth and naskh scripts, Ismail received his calligraphic education and license from Ressam Ömer Efendi. He signed his name Ismail Muhasib, since after his training at the court school he was sent to the provinces as a bookkeeper (muhasib) of the court eunuchs. He copied a Qur?an on the order of Ahmed III (r. 1703–30) and was generously rewarded. His surviving work consists of individual calligraphic specimens and others contained in albums (muraqqa). Originally, the hilye text was simply written on paper and carried as a protective amulet. In the last quarter of the seventeenth century, the renowned calligrapher Hafiz Osman transformed it into a circular calligraphic composition and included it in a copy of al-Anam, the sixth chapter of the Quran. With representational images of, for instance, Mecca and Medina, hilyes began to be included in various prayer books that contained Quranic chapters and prayers. Believed to bring succor in times of difficulty, such prayer books had widespread public appeal. Hilyes created as independent calligraphic compositions became very popular in Ottoman lands during the nineteenth century, and large-format examples were often hung on the walls of Ottoman houses.

  • Text concerning Rustam’s fifth and sixth trials (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Text concerning Rustam’s fifth and sixth trials (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Mighty Rustam is the chief hero in the Shahnama. In the course of an adventurous life that spanned centuries, he battled for Iran and her rulers. Here, in the last of his seven courses, he slew great White Demon (Div) of Mazanderan. After a desperate struggle, he cut out his adversary's liver to bring it back to the captive and blinded Iranian king Kay Kavus, for only drops of the White Demon's blood could restore the king's sight.

  • Colophon (text, recto), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Colophon (text, recto), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    The colophon, written in the tapering area at the bottom of the page, reads, “The end of the book, with the aid of God and divine blessings. Prayers and praise upon Muhammad, Seal of the Prophets, and [upon God] of the pious and the chaste. With continuous and eternal prayers of submission to the Greatest of Greats, on the [?] day of the month of Ramadan the blessed in the year 969, by the effort of Muhammad al-Qivam al-Katib al-Shirazi, may God forgive him. May you [God] forgive any offenses and hide any errors. So be it, O Lord!” There is no text on the verso of this folio.

  • Pen Box with Flowers and Putti

    Pen Box with Flowers and Putti

    A roughly symmetrical composition of putti cavorting among acanthus leaves and blooming roses decorates the upper surface of this pen box. The same scheme appears on the sides, except that there the nudes are clearly female. The figures float through the air, suspended among the foliage, and grasp at the twisting stalks. On each of the three surfaces, scrolling gold acanthus leaves edged in dark brown intersect at the center to form a heart-shaped motif; this shape is more pronounced on the sides. A rose vine laden with blooms and a plant bearing smaller, pale blue flowers is interwoven with the gilded scrolls. The ground, a dark brownish black, offers the perfect contrast to the pale, luminescent torsos of the putti, the golden tone of the acanthus, and the green and pink of the rose vines. As in other examples of Persian lacquer, an application of tinted varnish—in this case not the original coating—warms the whole and has a unifying effect on the palette. The brownish-black base and sliding drawer of the pen box are decorated with gold floral sprays, while the end of the drawer features two more putti. The paint on the sides of the exterior is considerably thinner than on the upper surface. In raking light it is possible to see pin-pricked outlines around the principal motifs, evidence of the use of a pounced design. Such designs, intended for transferring motifs and compositions from one medium to another, survive in albums of artists’ technical materials from the Qajar era. The painter’s signature appears in tiny white script on the upper surface of the pen case, to the right of center at the top edge. Lutf Ali (d. 1871–72) was one of several accomplished lacquer artists active in Shiraz in the middle years of the 1800s, although he may have spent part of his career in Isfahan and or Tehran.

  • Pen Box with Battle and Hunting Scenes

    Pen Box with Battle and Hunting Scenes

    On its upper surface, this late example of a Qajar lacquer pen case, signed by Asad Allah Dizfuli, displays a scene of epic battle. Densely packed cavalry troops flank groups of dueling warriors in the foreground, and a clustered mass of stationary cavalry stands at the farthest remove from the action. The expansive scope of the combat is conveyed by receding lines of cavalry stretching toward the horizon, resembling in effect the infinite reflections of a room of mirrors. Without any clear direction of movement or indication of a dominant group that might leave the field victorious, the scene conveys the melee of battle as a series of skirmishes between individuals, some victorious over their foes, others less fortunate. Observing men falling from their horses and awaiting their final dispatch, the viewer’s eyes are drawn to the decapitated heads of victims who have already met death, an image that recalls the longstanding trope from Persian historical sources of battlefields littered with heads like balls on polo fields. The sides and base of the pen box continue the theme of martial prowess, though here men mounted on horses and armed with swords, lances, and firearms hunt deer and a lion for sport. The artist unifies these compositionally varied scenes by setting them in developed landscapes of receding planes of grass and other vegetation, with horizons given over to trees and small buildings, each one different from the next, depicted in perspective.

  • Pitcher with Foliate Carving

    Pitcher with Foliate Carving

    The decoration on the body of this pitcher is incised and consists of highly stylized leaf forms. Squat in shape, the pitcher has a lobed rim and three handles topped with flower heads in relief. Although its decoration is common on other monochrome incised pitchers, its wide mouth and handles are a rarity; the knobs above the handles indicate that it follows a metal prototype. The turquoise glaze that covers both interior and exterior of the body terminates thickly above the foot. Despite several repairs, particularly around the base, the vessel retains its original form.

  • Two Eminences Observed, folio from an album

    Two Eminences Observed, folio from an album

    This drawing depicts a detailed landscape occupied by three figures: an old man and a princely figure facing each other at the center, and a youth watching them from behind a low hillock. The older figure—a man of learning and possibly an advisor—adopts a deferential pose, with his turbaned head tilted forward and down and his hands withdrawn into the long sleeves of his robe as a sign of respect. The princely man, who, as his beard indicates, has reached maturity, looks directly at his companion and gestures with both arms. His turban is elegantly wrapped, the cloth gathered in artful folds around a Safavid baton (taj-i ?aydari); he wears a ring on his left hand, carries a small bound book tucked inside his shirt, and holds a rounded object—a cushion, book, or container—between his arm and torso. The visual language of the poses suggests that he is inviting the older man to converse. The landscape conjures a hospitable setting for this subtle human interaction. The tree around which the two figures stand offers shelter to songbirds; from its roots flow a branching rivulet edged with rocks and flowering plants. Above the high horizon, the sky is full of clouds. The artist, who has been identified as Mirza ?Ali, has carefully modulated his use of line—whether uniform or varying in thickness—throughout the drawing. The hierarchy of thick and thin is logical: the figures and landscape elements are positioned in their respective spaces by firm delineation, while their individuality is defined by thinner lines or occasional washes that supply the details. An attribution at the lower edge of the drawing could be read as the name Manuchihr.

  • Bahram Chubina Slays Kut of Rum (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    Bahram Chubina Slays Kut of Rum (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

    The Iranian military commander Bahram Chubina had rebelled against his king, Hurmuzd; forced Hurmuzd’s son and rightful heir, Khusraw Parviz, to flee to Rum; and usurped the throne. When Khusraw returned to Iran with reinforcements from the Byzantine emperor, Bahram gathered his army and prepared to do battle against him. One brave Byzantine, Kut of Rum, volunteered to ride to Bahram’s camp and challenge him to single combat. Khusraw and the rest of his men watched the ensuing contest from a mountaintop. The illustration shows the climax of the episode, when Bahram Chubina cleaves Kut’s chest with his sword. The pair battle in a rocky landscape, surrounded by warriors, banging kettledrums, and blaring horns. Soldiers just below the upper text box wear long, drooping headgear similar to that of Ottoman Janissaries, which probably identifies them as the Byzantine soldiers mentioned in Firdawsi’s text. Recto. Text corresponds with Ramazani (1963) vol. 5, p. 155, lines 3795-3804. Ramazani's subtitle for this section reads, "Battle between Khusraw and Bahram Chubina and the death of Kut Rumi." Verso. Text corresponds with Ramazani (1963), vol 5, pp. 155-57, lines 3805-3852. Subtitle reads, "Battle between Bahram Chubina and the Iranians."

  • The Prophet Muhammad’s Ascent to Heaven (painting, verso; text, recto), folio from a manuscript of the Khamsa (Layla and Majnun) by Nizami

    The Prophet Muhammad’s Ascent to Heaven (painting, verso; text, recto), folio from a manuscript of the Khamsa (Layla and Majnun) by Nizami

    The story of the miraculous night journey of the Prophet Muhammad is based on passages from the Qur'an (17:1, 53:1–18, and 81:19–25), as well as later hadith that describe his travel (isra' ) from “the holy mosque” to “the farthest mosque” as well as his ascent to heaven (mi'raj) and what he experienced there. Paintings of this wondrous event sometimes appear in illustrated manuscripts of Persian epic and romantic poetry, such as the Khamsa of Nizami, even though they are not directly related to the stories told in these works. In this illustration, the Prophet is shown in mid-journey, riding his human-headed steed, Buraq. Rainbow-winged angels hover around him and proffer golden vessels. Among them is archangel Gabriel: holding a banner of green, the color associated with the Prophet, he leads Muhammad on his mystical journey. Although earlier depictions of the Prophet reveal his face, here he is shown veiled, in accord with iconography adopted at the beginning of the Safavid period, in the early 1500s.

  • Opening Lecture: In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art
  • Installation of “In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art”
  • Re-creation of a Medieval Ceramic Sweetmeat Dish from Iran
  • Iskandar Meets the Angel Israfil and Khizr Finds the Water of Life (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Piran Attacks the Iranians at Night (painting, verso; text, recto), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Bahram Gur in the Sandalwood Pavilion, from the Haft paykar
  • Fineleaf Fumitory Folio from a manuscript of Khawass al-ashjar (De materia medica) by Dioscorides
  • Double page: Rustam Mourns Sohrab and Carries His Coffin (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Courtier with Attendants in a Garden, folio from an album
  • Youth Dressed as a Dervish, folio from an album
  • Portrait of a Youth
  • Small Bowl of
  • Pen Box with Birds, Flowers, and Butterflies
  • Small Bowl of
  • Cup with Lobed Rim and Human Faces
  • Equestrian Portrait of Raja Karan Singh of Bikaner
  • Gushtaham and Banduy Blind Hurmuzd (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • The Caliph Harun al-Rashid in the Bath (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Khamsa (Makhzan al-Asrar) by Nizami
  • Woman Committing Sati, folio from an Album
  • Bowl with Foliated and Plaited Inscription
  • Iskandar Mourns the Dying Dara (painting, verso; text, recto), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Bowl with Birds Circling an Inscription
  • Bowl Inscribed with Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad and 'Ali ibn Abi Talib
  • Episodes from the Story of Siyavush (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Story of Iraj's Journey to Meet with His Brothers and His Death at Their Hands (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Murder of Iraj (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • The Story of Rustam and Bahman (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Rustam and the Iranians Hunt in Afrasiyab’s Preserves (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Story of How Garsivaz is Tortured to Capture Afrasiyab (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Episodes from the Story of Mahuy (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Double page: The Death of Luhrasp in Battle against the Forces of Arjasp (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Zoomorphic Pitcher
  • Bowl with Radial Foliate Design
  • Young Woman as Cup Bearer, folio from an album
  • Khusraw and Shirin with Courtiers and Pomegranates  (painting, verso; text, recto), folio from a manuscript of the Khamsa (Khusraw and Shirin) by Nizami
  • Small Dish with Stylized Rock Dove
  • Mirror-Case Cover with Mother, Child, and Angel
  • Bowl with Seated Couple
  • Albarello with Inscription, Arabesques, and Figures
  • Illuminated frontispiece (illuminated text, recto; text, verso), left-hand side of a bifolio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Khusraw Parviz Murdered in his Sleep (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Bowl with Three Figures and Checkered Trees
  • Bowl with a Cheetah Standing on the Back of a Horse
  • Star Tile with Lotus Decoration
  • Wedding Celebration of Zal and Rudaba (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Bowl with Enthroned Ruler and Courtiers
  • Rustam's Seventh Course: He Slays the White Demon (painting, recto; text, verso), illustrated folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Recumbent Lioness
  • Dish with Peonies
  • Bowl Inscribed with a Saying of 'Ali ibn Abi Talib
  • Double page: The Trial by Fire of Siyavush (painting, verso; text, recto), left-hand side of a double-page painting from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Story of Farangis (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Rustam and the Iranians Hunt in Afrasiyab’s Preserves (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Illuminated frontispiece, right-hand side of a bifolio from a manuscript of the Khulasa al-Akhbar
  • Qaydafa Recognizes Iskandar from His Portrait (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Illuminated title page: opening verses of the Shahnama, folio from a manuscript of the Shanama by Firdawsi
  • Rustam Fending off the Rock Dropped by Bahman (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Praise for Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Court of Gayumars (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Story of Kay Khusraw Reviewing his Army, and Tus Leading the Iranians into Turan (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Guruy Executes Siyavush (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Story of Bahman Seeking Rustam and Launching a Boulder toward Him (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Sultan Sanjar and the Old Woman (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Khamsa (Makhsan al-Asrar) by Nizami
  • Story of Piran Convincing Siyavush to Take Farangis as his Wife (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Episodes from the Story of Hurmuzd (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Figurine of a Horse and Rider
  • Shapur with the Daughter of Mihrak (text, recto; painting, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Lovers Embracing, folio from an album
  • Khusraw Parviz Enthroned in a Garden (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Isfandiyar Captures Gurgsar in Combat (text, recto; painting, verso), illustrated folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Afrasiyab and Siyavush Embrace (painting, recto; text, verso), illustrated folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Fragmentary Star Tile with Lovers
  • Small Bowl of
  • Flat-Rimmed Bowl with Radial Design
  • Ten-sided Bowl with High Foot
  • Bowl with Bird and Flowers
  • Burzuy Brings Nushirvan the Book of Kalila and Dimna  (painting, recto; text, verso), Illustrated folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Albarello
  • The Death of Luhrasp in Battle against the Forces of Arjasp (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Bowl with Standing Figure Holding a Bottle
  • Flat-Rimmed Bowl with Bird in Foliage
  • Bowl with Black Foliate Arabesque and Pseudo-Inscription
  • Small Bowl with Quadruped and Inscription
  • Jug with Birds and Inscription Bands
  • High-Footed Dish with Two Horsemen
  • Ewer with Peacocks
  • Majnun in the Wilderness, from Layla va Majnun
  • Kay Khusraw Reviews His Troops (painting, verso; text, recto), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Double page: The Trial by Fire of Siyavush (painting, verso; text, recto), right-hand side of a double-page painting from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Courtiers with a Horse and Attendant, folio from an album
  • Stamp Seal: Hand
  • Cylindrical Container with Lid, of
  • The Execution of Afrasiyab (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Rectangular Jar with Lid
  • Calligraphic Portrait of the Prophet Muhammad (recto); Geneaology of the Prophet Muhammad (verso) , left-hand side of a bifolio from a manuscript
  • Text concerning Rustam’s fifth and sixth trials (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Colophon (text, recto), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Pen Box with Flowers and Putti
  • Pen Box with Battle and Hunting Scenes
  • Pitcher with Foliate Carving
  • Two Eminences Observed, folio from an album
  • Bahram Chubina Slays Kut of Rum (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • The Prophet Muhammad’s Ascent to Heaven (painting, verso; text, recto), folio from a manuscript of the Khamsa (Layla and Majnun) by Nizami
Arthur M. Sackler Museum

This special exhibition showcases some 150 works from the Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art. Largely unpublished and little known, the collection includes important objects from the Persian cultural sphere, such as luxury glazed ceramics of the early Islamic era, illustrated manuscripts of medieval epic poems, and lacquerware of the early modern era. Among the manuscripts are folios of the Shahnama, by Firdawsi, and the Khamsa, by Nizami. The accompanying catalogue, published by the Harvard Art Museums and distributed by Yale University Press, offers illustrated entries and nine essays written by distinguished scholars and conservation scientists from a broad range of specialties. Curated by Mary McWilliams, Norma Jean Calderwood Curator of Islamic and Later Indian Art, Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art, Harvard Art Museums.

In Harmony marks the first time the museums are using an augmented reality app called Layar in the galleries. The free app, available for iPhone, iPad, or Android devices, gives visitors access to audio, video, and web links for several objects on display.

Special docent-led tours of the exhibition will be offered on Wednesdays, February 13–May 29, 2013. These tours start in the Sackler Museum lobby at 2pm, last approximately an hour, and are included with admission. Special notice: The docent tour of In Harmony on Wednesday, May 1, has been canceled.

In conjunction with Harvard's Arts First celebration, special talks by undergraduate students on selected artworks in the exhibition will be given on Saturday, April 27, 2013, 11am to noon and 1pm to 2pm. Please note that attendance for these talks is limited and included with admission.

This exhibition and its accompanying catalogue have been made possible through the generous support of the late Stanford Calderwood.