Colors, gold, and silver on paper; H. 12 5/8 in. (32.1 cm), W. 8 3/4 in. (22.2 cm)
Gift of Alexander Smith Cochran, 1913 (126.96.36.199)
The fourth of the late twelfth-century Persian poet Nizami's five epic poems, later combined to form the famous Khamsa (Quintet), was the Haft Paikar, or Seven Portraits, so named from one incident in the story. It recounts the legendary history of the Sasanian king Bahram Gur, who is idealized as a great lover and hunter. The story is known also as the Seven Princesses because Bahram Gur, so the story goes, married seven beautiful princesses from the seven regions of the world, and visited each in her own pavilion on successive nights of the week. In this highly sensual but moralistic work, each princess tells a story and there are additional stories within these. This painting shows Bahram Gur visiting the princess Azarene, daughter of the king of Maghrib (the Arabic name for northwest Africa), in the turquoise pavilion on a Wednesday. The princess spins a fantastic tale that alludes to the dangers of greed.