"The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus", Folio from a Falnama (Book of Omens)

Object Name: Folio from an illustrated manuscript

Date: 1550s

Geography: Attributed to Iran, Qazvin

Medium: Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper

Dimensions: Painting: H. 23 in. (58.4 cm)
W. 17 3/4 in. (45.1 cm)
Mat : H. 28 in. (71.1 cm)
W. 22 in. (55.9 cm)
Frame: H. 30 1/2 in. (77.5 cm)
W. 24 1/2 in. (62.2 cm)

Classification: Codices

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1935

Accession Number: 35.64.3


This folio is from a manuscript of The Book of Omens (the Falnama), an illustrated divinatory book. It depicts an auspicious Qur'anic story (18:9–25). Seven Christian men (ashab al-kahf), along with their dog Qitmir, escaped persecution by the emperor Decius (r. A.D. 249–51) by miraculously sleeping in a cave for 309 years. The drama of the narrative is understood through the composition. The emperor is depicted on his white horse at the top left corner. His armies of men wave their weapons in search of the Christians. Meanwhile, the seven sleepers and their dog rest peacefully at the center, unaware of the outside commotion.