10/17/11

Laila and Majnun at School: Page from the Khamsa of Nizami (Quintet of Nizami) (1994.232.4) | The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Herat, present-day Afghanistan
Ink, opaque watercolors, and gold on paper
Artist: possibly Mir Khalil; calligrapher: Ja'far

This splendid painting is from a manuscript of the frequently illustrated story of Laila and Majnun by the twelfth-century Persian poet Nizami of Ganja (a city in the present-day Republic of Azerbaijan). It was commissioned by the Timurid prince Baysunghur of Herat, one of the greatest bibliophiles in all Islamic history, who gathered at his court the very best painters from Baghdad, Tabriz, Shiraz, and Samarkand to illustrate his matchless collection of books. The illustration depicts Qais, the future "mad one" (Majnun) for love, and Laila, his beloved, who meet for the first time as children at a mosque school. Laila and Majnun at School: Page from the Khamsa of Nizami (Quintet of Nizami) (1994.232.4) | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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