Khusraw Feasting

Khusraw Feasting
(click image to zoom-in)
Miniatures, Gouache, 23.7x13.7 cm
Origin: Iran, 1431-1431, Timurid Dynasty

This is one of the 12 miniatures illustrating the poem Khusraw and Shirin 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 Khamsawas copied out in Herat by the calligrapher Mahmud for Sultan Shahrukh , son of the legendary Tamerlaine .

Khusraw and Shirin is the first poem in the literature of the Near and Middle East in which man's personality is shown in all its rich variety. The subject for this poem came from the chronicles of ancient Iran. Nizami was drawn by the image of Shirin, "beauteous of face and morals", who remained faithful to her beloved husband, the last Shah of pre-Islamic Iran, Khusraw II . By the 9th century there was a whole cycle of legends about Shirin and Khusraw.

The brave and intelligent Khusraw has given himself up too easily to the sensual pleasures of royal life, sometimes forgetting that he must rule his country. Nizami relates how Khusraw feasted in a tent and listened to music all night, yet in the miniature the feast takes place in daylight out in the open air. In the centre on a bright carpet is Khusraw wearing a crown, tasting the food which his servants hold ready. Below, in a bright blue robe, is the artist Shapur, to whom Khusraw has often poured out his soul, telling how Shirin does not approve of the royal entertainments, and asking his advice. The scene is set against a landscape background, of a type very widespread in Iranian miniature painting.

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

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