Two Lovers Lost at Sea from Saʻdi's "Bustan"


This calligraphic fragment includes, in the main text panel, four verses from Saʻdi’s Bustan (The fruit garden), in which he succinctly describes the tragic story of two lovers who fall into a whirlpool in the sea. When a sailor attempts to save them, each lover asks him to save the other—as he turns to each one, it becomes too late and both die: “I read that, in a very large sea, / They fell together into a whirlpool. / When the sailor arrived to give a hand / So that they not die in that difficult situation...” The text is executed in black nastaʻliq script framed by cloud bands on a background covered in gold leaf and decorated by vine motifs in black ink. In the upper and lower corners, the spaces between the diagonal lines of text and the rectangular frame are filled by illuminated triangles (or thumb pieces). The main text panel is framed by several borders, including one that contains ten verses of poetry separated by red panels decorated by gold flower designs. The decoration is of mediocre quality and may have been added after the text panel, itself possibly executed in Iran during the 16th‒17th centuries.

Last updated: November 1, 2017