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The Canticle of the Birds of the poet 'Attâr

Michael Barry, Department of Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University

The world-famous Canticle of the Birds, the most beautiful intact Persian manuscript in the Metropolitan Museum, was illustrated for a king in Herat in present-day Afghanistan in 1487. Created by Islam's greatest artists of the book, the work was completed in 1609 for presentation to Iran's royal shrine at Ardabil, the holy burial ground of the shahs. This talk illuminates some of the prodigiously rich mystical symbolism of the manuscript's art—the flight and fusion of all the world's soul-birds into the radiance of the Divine Sun-Bird—in light of some of the most glorious Islamic paintings from the Persian and Indian regions found in the Metropolitan Museum's collection.

Recorded March 4, 2014

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