Nizami (Ilyas Abu Muhammad Nizam al-Din of Ganj) (probably 1141–1217), Author; Maulana Azhar, Calligrapher
Iranian; Made in Afghanistan
Ink, colors, and gold on paper
Page size: 11 x 7 in. (27.9 x 17.8 cm)
Gift of Alexander Smith Cochran, 1913 (13.228.13)
The opening pages of this manuscript exemplify the accomplishment and sophistication of the court atelier of Herat under Prince Baisunghur. The delicate control of floral scrolls and arabesques, the richness of the blue from lapis lazuli, the variety of shapes, the changes of scale and colors, orchestrated to lead the eye from dense and intricate patterning to areas of more leisurely rhythms, surely attest to the highest artistry, often imitated but rarely equaled. An eavesdropper can be seen peering at the frolicking nymphs from a shuttered window of the building. The lyrical mood of this miniature typifies the idealized vision of the world depicted by the Persian painter. The balance between architectural, landscape, and figural elements in the design is harmoniously controlled, and color is used to set off objects from one another and at the same time unite them within the composition.