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Folio from a Mu'nis al-ahrar fi daqa'iq al-ash'ar (The Free Man's Companion to the Subtleties of Poems) of Jajarmi

Muhammad ibn Badr al-Din Jajarmi (active 1340s)

Object Name:
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
A.H. 741/A.D. 1340–41
Iran, Isfahan
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Page: 7 1/2 x 5 in. (19.1 x 12.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1919
Accession Number:
  • Description

    This page from an anthology of Persian poetry illustrates a poem about the moon as it enters the houses of all twelve zodiac signs. In the three scenes here, the moon is shown visiting Gemini, depicted as two youths with joined, reptilelike tails, then in the house of Cancer, a large, scaly crab, and finally seated next to the lion of Leo.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: The text in Persian reads:

    "O lofty in origin, if you wish to know clearly
    In which of the signs of zodiac the Moon is,
    Know first that every month the Sun enters a new sign.
    For instance, if the Sun should be in the month of Aries,
    And if the Moon is ten days old, add ten more to that.
    When the doubling has been done, then add five more.
    Listen well to this point: allow one sign for each five.
    Begin from the sign in which the illustrious Sun is:
    The Moon is in Virgo, if the calculation is done right.
    Look well at this example I have given;
    In whichever sign the Sun is, make this calculation,
    And if you do not understand, others do. I make it brief."
    "If the Moon should be in Aries, put on new clothes,
    exert yourself in being bled, hunting, enjoyment, and war.
    Refrain from marriage and taking medicine.
    Drink the cup of joy with military men."
    "With the Moon in Taurus, know that companionship is good.
    It is good for you to start seeing women.
    Construction goes well, and the making of compacts,
    Making marriages, and entertainments for guests."

    "With the Moon in Gemini, partnerships, making marriages and journeys
    Are good, if you do them, O you mine of jewels.
    Have clothing cut, make your requests from men of the pen.
    Do not take medicine and be sure to shun bleeding."
    "With the Moon in Cancer, it is proper to have clothes cut,
    And if you take purgatives they will work excellently.
    Buy jewels, travel on water, for that is good.
    Send messengers wherever you need to."
    "The Moon is in Leo. Work with fire is good.
    Make your requests in the presence of kings.
    Lay foundations, be bled, and make compacts
    And avoid sewing and wearing new clothes."
    (Translated by A. H. Morton in Swietochowski and Carboni, "Illustrated Poetry and Epic Images". NY: MMA, 1994)

  • Provenance

    [ Hagop Kevorkian, New York, until 1919; sold to MMA]

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History