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"Marriage of Khusrau and Shirin", Folio from a Khamsa (Quintet) of Nizami
Author: Nizami (Ilyas Abu Muhammad Nizam al-Din of Ganja) (probably 1141–1217)
Calligrapher: Sultan Muhammad Nur (ca. 1472–ca. 1536)
Calligrapher: Mahmud Muzahhib
Artist: Painting by Shaikh Zada
Object Name: Folio from an illustrated manuscript
Date: A.H. 931/A.D. 1524–25
Geography: present-day Afghanistan, Herat
Culture: Islamic
Medium: Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Dimensions: Painting: H. 7 in. (17.8 cm) W. 4 3/4 in. (12.1 cm) Page: H. 12 5/8 in. (32.1 cm) W. 8 3/4 in. (22.2 cm) Mat: H. 19 1/4 in. (48.9 cm) W. 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm)
Classification: Codices
Credit Line: Gift of Alexander Smith Cochran, 1913
Accession Number:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

F. R. Martin, Sweden; Alexander Smith Cochran, Yonkers, NY (until 1913; gifted to MMA)

The second poem of Nizami’s Khamsa (Quintet) is a romantic epic tale concerning the last great Sasanian ruler, Khusrau II, and his beloved Christian princess, Shirin. While their union is delayed by many trials, tribulations, and intervening marriages, eventually the two are happily wed. This painting depicts their marriage, set within a crystalline architectural composition. Great care is lavished upon the details of the building, suggesting that the artist may have intended to depict a specific structure. Over the heads of the couple appears an invocation to God—"Oh! Opener of Doors!" The inscription on the portico above, dated Rajab 913 (April–May 1525), is contemporaneous with the colophon of the manuscript.
"Marriage of Khusrau and Shirin", Folio from a Khamsa (Quintet) of Nizami


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