(click image to zoom-in)
|Miniatures, Gouache, 23.7x13.7 cm|
|Origin: Iran, 1431-1431, Timurid Dynasty|
This is one of the 13 miniatures illustrating the poem Layla and Majnun in the Hermitage's famous Persian manuscript of the Khamsa, an anthology of five poems by the 12th-century poet Nizami, who lived on the territory of present-day Azerbaijan. In 1431 this manuscript of the Khamsa was copied out in Herat by the calligrapher Mahmud for Sultan Shahrukh , son of the legendary Tamerlaine .
The tale of this couple who loved each other from childhood, the beautiful Layla and the passionate Majnun, appeared in Arabia and then spread throughout the Moslem East. Nizami was the author of the first literary version of this legend.
Before us is a school, more severe than the palace interiors in other illustrations in this manuscript. In the middle is a strict tutor, "a man of knowledge - teacher of all the sciences", with a girl and boy beside him - Layla and Majnun. The poem relates how the boys in the class repeated the lesson, while Majnun was transfixed by Layla: "Nearby him was a girl, slender as a cypress tree, beauteous as the moon."
The combination of three columns of text and the impressive miniature, with small ornamental corners in the borders, indicate that both calligrapher and miniaturist worked closely together.
|Album: The Khamsa by Nizami|
|Source of entry: First Branch of the State Hermitage Museum, 1924|
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