"The Eavesdropper", Folio 47r from a Haft Paikar (Seven Portraits) of the Khamsa (Quintet) of Nizami
Maulana Azhar (d. 1475/76)
Nizami (Ilyas Abu Muhammad Nizam al-Din of Ganja) (probably 1141–1217)
Painting by Unknown
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
present-day Afghanistan, Herat
Ink, opaque watercolor, silver, and gold on paper
Painting: H. 8 7/8 in. (22.5 cm)
W. 4 7/8 in. (12.4 cm)
Page: H. 11 in. (27.9 cm)
W. 7 3/16 in. (18.3 cm)
Mat: H. 19 1/4 in. (48.9 cm)
W. 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm)
Gift of Alexander Smith Cochran, 1913
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 455
This folio once illustrated a magnificent manuscript of Nizami’s Haft Paikar (Seven Portraits). The story of the Seven Portraits comprises a series of moralizing tales as told to the Persian hero Bahram Gur by seven princesses. This lively and lyrical scene illustrates a story in which a youth spies upon maidens swimming in a garden pool by moonlight. The voyeur is barely visible here, peering out of the shuttered window, unbeknownst to the playful bathers below.
Inscription: Text inscribed in Persian nasta'liq script by Maulana Azhar (d. A.H. 880/ A.D.1475-6).
The inscriptions on the building were retranslated with the help of Abdullah Ghouchani (08/15/2008). They read as follows: at the top of building, "Allah and nothing but He, and we never worship anyone but He"; above the right window, "Continuous glory, the Everlasting"; above left window, "The glory the Sultan, the power"; above the door, "O Ye (God) who opens doors." It should be noted that the inscription above the left window is grammatically incorrect in Arabic (the English, too is awkward, because a literal translation has been provided). This raises questions about whether the inscriptions are original to the manuscript. Additionally, the last word of the script above the right window is unclear; Dr. Ghouchani guessed that it might be "Al-Baqa" in Arabic, which would translate as "the Everlasting." (Mariam Rahmani, Volunteer, Undergraduate at Princeton University, 08/15/2008)
In Persian in nasta‘liq script
Khamsa of Nizami , هفت پيكر story نشستن بهرام گور روز آدینه در گنبد سفید و افسانه گفتن دختر پادشاه اقلیم هفتم
(Nizami Ganjavi, Sab’a-yi hakim Nizami Ganjavi, Haft Paykar, ed.Hasan vahid Dastgirdi, Muassaa-ye Matbu’ati Ilmi publication, 2nd ed., 1363/1985, p.299-300..)
On the building in thuluth script:
الله و لا سواه و لا نعبد إلا ایاه
God and no other one else and we do not pray to anyone else but him.
Above the door in kufic script:
يا مفتح الابواب
O you who are open the gates (who answer our problems)
Emperor Akbar, India (from 1580); his grandson Shah Jahan, India (in 1680); Alexander Smith Cochran, Yonkers, NY (until 1913; gifted to MMA)
Jackson, A. V. Williams, and A. Yohannan. "Presented to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, by Alexander Smith Cochran." In A Catalogue of the Collection of Persian Manuscripts, Including also Some Turkish and Arabic. 1914. no. 10, p. 71.
Grube, Ernst J. "The Early School of Herat and its Impact on Islamic Painting of the Later 15th, the 16th and 17th Centuries." In The Classical Style in Islamic Painting. Venice: Edizioni Oriens, 1968. ill. pl. 19 (b/w), fol. 47a.
Museum of Metropolitan Art Bulletin vol. 33, no. 1 (1975). p. 24, ill. (color).
Lentz, Thomas W., and Glenn D. Lowry. "Persian Art and Culture in the Fifteenth Century." In Timur and the Princely Vision. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1989. no. 62, pp. 173, 175, 342, ill. p. 175 (color).
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. p. 110-111, ill. p. 110 (color), folio 47r.
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. 123C, pp. 4, 183-184, ill. p. 183 (color).
Artist: Nizami (Ilyas Abu Muhammad Nizam al-Din of Ganja) (probably 1141–1217)Date: dated A.H. 931/A.D. 1524–25Medium: Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paperAccession: 188.8.131.52On view in:Gallery 455