Beginning of Niẓāmī's "Iqbalnamah"


This illuminated folio continues the beginning of Niẓāmī Ganjavī's Iqbalnamah (The book of progress), the second of two sections in the last book, Iskandarnamah (The book of Alexander the Great), of the author’s Khamsah (Quintet). It follows the first two illuminated folios of the book and provides multiple subhan (praises) of the Creator, as well as a eulogy on Muhammad, the Lord of the Messengers. Niẓāmī introduces each of his five books with introductory praises of God and His Prophet before launching into a narrative. The verso of this folio completes the first four folios of Iqbalnamah. The section that introduces the book's subject matter appears in an illuminated cartouche with the title written in white ink. In the lower corner of the folio appears the catchword that begins the subsequent folio, which unfortunately does not survive. Composed during the last few decades of the 12th century, Khamsah is written in mathnavi (rhyming distichs). Iskandarnamah recounts Alexander the Great's heroic exploits, battles, and journey to China and 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 (940–1020) in his Shahnamah (Book of kings), which may have drawn from the history of Alexander as written by his official biographer, Callisthenes of Olynthus (circa 370–327 B.C.). The illumination, white ink chapter headings, text layout, and Nasta'liq script are typical of manuscripts made in 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 and Majnun—are in the Library of Congress.

Last updated: December 24, 2013