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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Bahramgur hunting with Fitna (painting recto; text verso), Illustrated folio from a manuscript of Haft Paykar by Nizami.
Work Type
manuscript folio
16th century
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran
Safavid period
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Ink, watercolor and gold on paper
33 x 20.3 cm (13 x 8 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
[Hassan Khan Monif, New York (by 1958)]. [Childs and Company, Boston, (late April 1958)], sold; to Edwin Binney, 3rd, California, (1958-1986), bequest; to the Harvard Art Museums, 2015.

Stored at the San Diego Museum of Art from some time before 1986 until 1991, then at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from 1991-2011.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, The Edwin Binney, 3rd Collection of Turkish Art at the Harvard Art Museums
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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This single detached folio comes from a copy of the Khamsa of Nizami, the 12th century Iranian poet. The Khamsa is a popular and often illustrated text, especially in the 15th and 16th centuries in the Persian realm. This detached folio has a painting on its recto side, and text and illumination on its verso side. The text can be identified as the beginning of Haft Paykar (Seven Portraits), one of the five sections in the Khamsa. Haft Paykar relates stories about the legendary figure of the Sasanian king Bahram V. A delicately illuminated heading is placed above the beginning of this section. The painting, which precedes this illuminated heading and the text, is decorated with a thin floral band on three of its sides, which suggests that this is only the left side of a double page composition acting as a frontispiece to this section.
In the painting Bahram Gur is shown hunting in an open field with his retinue which includes a harp playing girl and a young male figure. He shoots an arrow towards an onager attacked by a lion. Other game including deer, wild boars, and foxes are shown in the field. Three figures on horseback watch the hunt with awe in the background. This painting relates to a specific episode narrated in the Haft Paykar: Bahram Gur goes on a hunt with his chestnut colored horse. His slave girl Fitna (from China) joins the hunt as she rides separately and plays her harp. As the wild asses near, Bahram Gur shows his hunting skills. Unable to receive praises from Fitna, Bahram Gur asks her how he should hunt an approaching onager. Fitna asks him to pin the hoof of the animal to its head with a single arrow. When finished with the task, Bahram Gur expecting a lavish praise asks how he performed. Fitna attributes his feat simply to practice rather than strength. Infuriated with her words Bahram dismisses her from being his maid and asks one of his men to kill her.

Verification Level

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