Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Shaikh Sancan and a Maiden on a Balcony: Page from a manuscript of the Mantiq al–Tayr (The Language of the Birds) of Farid al–Din cAttar, ca. 1600; Safavid
    Iran (Isfahan)
    Opaque watercolor, ink, silver, and gold on paper; 7 3/10 x 4 4/5 in. (18.5 x 12.2 cm)
    Fletcher Fund, 1963 (63.210.18)

    The third and fourth Safavid illustrations depict scenes from a famous story of Shaikh Sancan that is often illustrated in other manuscripts of the Mantiq al-Tayr. The story is as follows: A celebrated shaikh named Sancan went from Kacba to Greece and fell in love with a Christian maiden. At her suggestion, he became a Christian and even looked after swine, which are considered unclean in Islam. When his disciples heard about this, they came to Greece and prayed to God that Shaikh Sancan would return to the right path. Due to the disciples' prayers, he revived his Muslim faith and returned to his home in the Hijaz. Then, repenting of her deed, the Christian maiden followed him and converted to Islam. Shaikh Sancan sensed that she had true faith in Islam and turned back to seek her with his disciples. When she saw Shaikh Sancan, she fainted and this made him cry. Later, when the Christian maiden recovered consciousness, she begged his pardon and died.

    The text on this folio illustrates the moment at which Shaikh Sancan loses belief in Islam and ignores his disciples' remonstrances. He gazes at the Christian maiden, who stands on a balcony, as his disciples talk to each other with perplexed expressions. As with the previous illustration, this one also incorporates several Timurid elements; the style of inscription band on the building seems to be inspired by that on the lower part of the Timurid building depicted in folio 28r. A red fence surrounding a garden was also a popular motif in the Timurid period. However, the style of the building and the maiden's clothing are typical of the Safavid period.

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  • Shaikh Sancan and a Maiden on a Balcony: Page from a manuscript of the Mantiq al-Tayr (The Language of the Birds) of Farid al-Din cAttar, ca. 1600; Safavid
    Iran (Isfahan)
    Opaque watercolor, ink, silver, and gold on paper; 7 3/10 x 4 4/5 in. (18.5 x 12.2 cm)
    Fletcher Fund, 1963 (63.210.18)


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