verso Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
2002.50.1
Title
Bahram Gur and the Indian Princess in the Black Pavilion (painting, verso; text, recto), illustrated folio from a manuscript of the Khamsa (Haft Paykar) by Nizami
Classification
Manuscripts
Work Type
manuscript folio
Date
1584
Places
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Shiraz
Period
Safavid period
Culture
Persian
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/165387
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Dimensions
40.2 x 26.2 cm (15 13/16 x 10 5/16 in.)
Provenance
[Christies, London, 18 October 1994, lot 28]. [Mansour Gallery, London, by 1994 or 1995], sold; to Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood, Belmont, MA (1994 or 1995 - 2002), gift; to Harvard Art Museums, 2002.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art
Accession Year
2002
Object Number
2002.50.1
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Description
The Haft paykar (Seven Beauties, or Seven Portraits) is a romantic epic poem of about 5130 couplets that narrates the life of the Sasanian king Bahram Gur. A substantial section of the poem relates how Bahram Gur discovered portraits of princesses from the seven climes, fell in love with these beauties, searched them out, and wed them all. For his brides he had an architect construct seven domed pavilions with colors corresponding to the seven climes and the planets that ruled them. On each day of the week, the king visited one princess, who would tell him a story in keeping with her color and mood.
This painting depicts Bahram Gur’s visit on Saturday to the Indian princess, who occupies a black pavilion (governed by Saturn). The king and his bride, wearing black and dark gray robes patterned in gold, sit in a black-domed palatial structure, drinking wine as female servants and entertainers attend them. The illuminated text boxes are embedded in the palace architecture, becoming part of the densely ornamental painted surface. As is typical of these illustrations, the color of the protagonists’ clothing matches that of the architecture around them.

Published Catalogue Text: In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art , written 2013
110

Bahram Gur in the Black Pavilion, from the Haft paykar
Recto: text
Verso: text and illustration, with title “Bahram goes on Saturday to the black pavilion”
Folio: 40.2 × 26.2 cm (15 13/16 × 10 5/16 in.)
2002.50.1

Published: Christie’s 1994a, lot 28.

The Haft paykar (Seven Beauties, or Seven Portraits) is a romantic epic poem of about 5130 couplets that narrates the life of the Sasanian king Bahram Gur. A substantial section of the poem relates how Bahram Gur discovered portraits of princesses from the seven climes, fell in love with these beauties, searched them out, and wed them all. For his brides he had an architect construct seven domed pavilions with colors corresponding to the seven climes and the planets that ruled them. On each day of the week, the king visited one princess, who would tell him a story in keeping with her color and mood.

This painting depicts Bahram Gur’s visit on Saturday to the Indian princess, who occupies a black pavilion (governed by Saturn). The king and his bride, wearing black and dark gray robes patterned in gold, sit in a black-domed palatial structure, drinking wine as female servants and entertainers attend them. The illuminated text boxes are embedded in the palace architecture, becoming part of the densely ornamental painted surface. As is typical of these illustrations, the color of the protagonists’ clothing matches that of the architecture around them.

Mika M. Natif

Publication History

Mary McWilliams, ed., In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2013), pp. 246-247, cat. 110, ill.

Exhibition History

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

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