Bahram Gur in the Yellow Pavilion


This text describes an episode from the Haft Paykar (Seven thrones) of Niẓāmī Ganjavī (died 1202−3), the fourth book from his Khamsah (Quintet). In this romantic allegory of love and frustration, Sassanian ruler Bahram Gur (died 438) visits seven pavilions on each day of the week. Here, Niẓāmī describes the ruler's visit to the gunbad-i zar (yellow pavilion) on a Ruz-i yakshamba (Sunday), an anecdote represented on the folio's verso. In this tale, Bahram Gur is disappointed by his concubines and convinces a woman, who first refuses his advances, to marry him. The ruler is shown seated in the upper left, surrounded by women offering food and playing musical instruments. The yellow dome of the pavilion breaks through the top margin, and a number of verses describing the events frame the painting at the top and bottom. The verses are executed in black nasta'liq script in four columns separated by gold gutters. Four verses in the paper's center are written diagonally, providing a clue to the end of one section, as well as the beginning of the subsequent tale of the yellow pavilion (whose title appears in the illuminated chapter heading in the bottom center). This text page and the painting on the folio's verso are typical of Persian illustrated manuscripts of Niẓāmī's Khamsah produced during the Safavid period. A great number of such works were made in 16th-century Shiraz, southwestern Persia (present-day Iran), for export to Ottoman Turkey and Mughal India.

Last updated: April 29, 2015