Description

  • This folio contains the last lines and colophon of the Sharafnamah (The book of honor), the first section of the fifth book of Niẓāmī Ganjavī's Khamsah (Quintet) entitled Iskandarnamah (The book of Alexander the Great). On the folio's verso appears the beginning of the second section of the Iskandarnamah called Iqbalnamah (The book of progress), arranged in an illuminated title page, which contains a heading written in white ink: Kitab Iqbalnamah-yi Shaykh Nizami, 'alayhi al-rahmah wa-al-maghfarah (The book of progress of Niẓāmī, mercy and forgiveness upon him). The title appears on a blue background decorated with concentric vines of red and yellow flowers. All around the title panel and the written surface appear bands of illuminated decoration on either a gold or blue background. Written during the last few decades of the 12th century, the Khamsah consists of five books written in rhyming distichs. Niẓāmī's Iskandarnamah recounts Alexander the Great's heroic exploits, battles, and journey to China and to Gog and Magog at the end of the world. It is loosely based on the epic narrative of Alexander's deeds as recounted by Firdawsī in his Shahnamah (The book of kings), which may have drawn from the history of Alexander as written by his official biographer, Callisthenes of Olynthus (circa 370–327 BC). The final lines of the Sharafnamah on the recto of this folio are executed in a carpet-page format, i.e., in alternating horizontal and diagonal lines with illuminated decoration in the remnant triangular or rectangular spaces. At the very bottom of the folio appears the work's colophon in the shape of a triangle, which states that the book Sharafnamah-yi Iskandari of Niẓāmī has been completed thanks to the grace of God. Unfortunately, the colophon gives neither the date of the book's completion nor the name of the calligrapher. The layout of the text and the Nasta'liq script are typical of manuscripts made in the city of Shiraz during the second half of the 16th century. Many Safavid Persian manuscripts at this time were produced for the domestic market and international export, rather than by royal commission. Nine other folios from the same manuscript—mostly initial and terminal folios of the various books from the Khamsah, as well as one painting from the story of Laylah wa Majnun—are also held in the Library of Congress.

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Physical Description

  • 22.9 x 34.5 centimeters

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