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Identification and Creation
Object Number
Illustrated Manuscript of poetry by Maktabi Shirazi, Vahshi Bafqi, and Naw’i Khabushani
Work Type
painting with calligraphy
1254 H (1838)
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran
Qajar period
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Cover: watercolor, gold-colored pigments, and lacquer on pasteboard Paintings: ink, watercolor, and gold on off-white laid paper Text: Ink, gold, and colors on paper
16.4 × 9.7 × 2.7 cm (6 7/16 × 3 13/16 × 1 1/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: Text dated 22 Shawwal 1254 H (January 8, 1838)
Ezzat-Malek Soudavar, Geneva, Switzerland (by 2014), by descent; to her son Abolala Soudavar, Houston, Texas (2014), gift; to Harvard Art Museums, 2014.

Ezzat-Malek Soudavar (1913-2014) formed this collection over a period of sixty years. She purchased the works of art on the international art market.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of A. Soudavar in memory of his mother Ezzat-Malek Soudavar
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Bound between fine lacquer covers, this anthology contains three tragic love poems: Layli va Majnun by Maktabi Shirazi (d. circa 1510); Farhad va Shirin by Vahshi Bafqi (d. 1583); and Suz va Gudaz (Burning and Melting) by Naw`i Khabushani (d. circa 1610). A colophon following Maktabi’s poem gives the date and place of completion as 22 Shawwal 1254 (January 8, 1838) in Fars. The patron's name is given as Muhammad Hasan Khan, son of the Qajar ruler Fath `Ali Shah. The small manuscript opens with double illuminated text pages which are copied in shikasta nasta`liq in two columns and 15 lines to a page. There are a total of 42 paintings illustrating the texts.

The outer covers of the binding feature two scenes from the story of Khusraw and Shirin: on the front Shirin visits Farhad at Mount Bisutun; and on the back Khusraw spies on the bathing Shirin. The inner covers bear monumental standing figures of an elderly (front) and a youthful (back) dervish. Each carries a begging bowl filled with flowers and hefts an axe on his shoulder. These figures reflect wall paintings in the Haft Tan mausoleum in Shiraz.
Publication History

Massumeh Farhad and Mary McWilliams, ed., A Collector’s Passion: Ezzat-Malek Soudavar and Persian Lacquer, Harvard Art Museums and Freer/Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution (Cambridge, MA/Washington, D.C., 2017), pp. 58-59, ill.; p. 99, cat. 15

David Roxburgh and Mary McWilliams, ed., Technologies of the Image: Art in 19th-Century Iran, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2017), pp. 17, 19, fig. 15; pp. 57-58, fig. 2; pp. 134-135, cat. 7

Exhibition History

Technologies of the Image: Art in 19th-Century Iran, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/26/2017 - 01/07/2018

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