The illustration on this folio depicts a scene from a mystical poem, Mantiq al-tair (Language of the Birds), written by a twelfth-century Iranian, Farid al-Din 'Attar. The birds, which symbolize individual souls in search of the simurgh (a mystical bird representing ultimate spiritual unity), are assembled in an idyllic landscape to begin their pilgrimage under the leadership of a hoopoe (perched on a rock at center right). The careful, harmonious composition is consistent with that of the late fifteenth-century Timurid miniatures also in the manuscript, but three factors indicate that this image is later: the presence of the hunter, who has no place in the narrative; his firearm, a weapon that gained currency in Iran after the mid-sixteenth century; and the signature of the late sixteenth- to early seventeenth-century artist Habiballah
Signature: In Persian: "Signed by Habib Allah".
Inscription: (In Persian): "Painted by order of Shah `Abbas" [added when manuscript was remounted]; (in Arabic, across tree at left): "charitable foundation" (waqf)
In Persian in nasta‘liq script:
Attar, Manṭiq al-Ṭayr منطق الطیر story مجمع مرغان (Conference of the Birds) at the beginning of the book.
(Farīd al-Dīn ‘Aṭṭār, Manṭiq al-Ṭayr, ed. Sayyid Ṣādiq Guharīn, Bungāh Tarjama va Nashr-I Kitāb publication, Tehran, 1342/1959, p.39).
Shah Abbas I, Isfahan, Iran (ca. 1600–1609; presented to Ardebil Shrine); Ardebil Shrine, Iran (ca. 1609–sack of Ardebil, 1826); M. Farid Parbanta(until 1963; sale, Sotheby's, London,December 9, 1963, no. 111, to MMA)
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de Montebello, Philippe, and Kathleen Howard, ed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. 6th ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992. pp. 324-325, ill. fig. 31 (color).
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Sims, Eleanor, B. Marshak, and Ernst J. Grube. "Persian Painting and its Sources." In Peerless Images. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002. no. 250, pp. 329-330, ill. p. 329 (color).
Babaie, Sussan, Kathryn Babayan, Ina Baghdiantz-McCabe, and Massumeh Farhad. "New Elites of Safavid Iran." In Slaves of the Shah. Library of Middle East history, vol. 3. London; New York: I.B. Tauris & Company, Ltd., 2004. ill. fig. 13 (b/w).
Barry, Mike, and Stuart Cary Welch. "et l'Enigme de Behzad de Herat (1465–1535)." In L'Art Figuratif en Islam Medieval. Paris: Flammarion, 2004. pp. 372-273, ill. p. 273 (color).
Lewisohn, Leonard, and Christopher Shackle, ed. "the art of spiritual flight." In Attar and the Persian Sufi Tradition. London; New York: The Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2006. p. 164, ill. pl. 1 (color).
Canby, Sheila R. Shah 'Abbas: The Remaking of Iran. London: British Museum, 2009. no. 82, p. 170-171, ill. p. 171 (color).
Kamada, Yumiko. "An Illustrated Manuscript of Mantiq al-Tayr in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Orient vol. XLV (2010). pp. 142-143, 170, 174, fig. 6.
Ekhtiar, Maryam, Sheila R. Canby, Navina Haidar, and Priscilla P. Soucek, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 127D, pp. 188-190, ill. p.189 (color).
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. p. 139, ill. (color).