Bahram Gur in the Black Pavilion

Bahram Gur in the Black Pavilion
(click image to zoom-in)
Miniatures, Gouache, 23.7x13.7 cm
Origin: Iran, 1431-1431, Timurid Dynasty

This is one of the 9 miniatures illustrating the poem Haft Paikar 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 poem relates how Bahram Gur, Shah of Iran, married the daughters of the padishahs of seven lands. A fortress, Khavarnak, was built specially, with pavilions for each of the princesses. The colour of each of the pavilions accorded with a particular day of the week and with the planets protecting that day. Bahram Gur visited each of the seven pavilions in turn, where each of the princesses told him a magical story of love, symbolizing the passing of man's spirit through seven stages on the mystical path to God. Each tale ends with praise of the relative colour.

On Saturday , Bahram Gur visited the Indian princess in the Black Pavilion. Each of the compositions showing the ruler's visits to the seven pavilions is very similar: Bahram Gur lies on cushions, with the princess seated at his feet and telling her tale. The differences are in the colour and here the artist creates a harmonious pattern of black and gold, the overall effect lightened by the white and blue of the upper parts of the walls.

Album: The Khamsa by Nizami
Personage: Bahram Gur
Source of entry: First Branch of the State Hermitage Museum, 1924
School: Herat
Theme: Literature

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