Colophon of Niẓāmī's "Makhzan al-Asrar" and Title Page of Niẓāmī's "Khusraw va Shirin"


This folio contains the illuminated title page of the second book of Niẓāmī's Khamsah (Quintet), entitled Khusraw va Shirin, and the colophon of the preceding work, Makhzan al-Asrar (The treasury of secrets). Written during the last few decades of the 12th century, the Khamsah consists of five books written in rhyming distichs. Along with Firdawsī's Shahnamah (Book of kings), the Khamsah stands out as one of the great monuments of medieval Persian poetry. It is about the love relationship of the last great Sasanian ruler, Khusraw Parvīz (590–628), and his beautiful mistress, Shirin, and many of the episodes in the story revolve around the complications caused by the king's ruses and the strength and faithfulness of his mistress. The illuminated title page shown here includes the book's heading, written in white ink. The title appears on a gold background decorated with red and blue flowers. All around the title panel and the written surface appear bands of illuminated decoration on either a gold or blue background. On the back of this folio appear the last lines of the Makhzan al-Asrar, a didactic-philosophical work. The final lines of the Makhzan al-Asrar 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 colophon of the work, which states that the book was finished thanks to the grace of God, but which gives neither the date of the book's completion nor the name of the calligrapher. The illumination, text layout, and Nasta'liq script are typical of manuscripts made in the city of Shiraz during the second half of the 16th century.

Last updated: December 24, 2013