"A Ruffian Spares the Life of a Poor Man", Folio 4v from a Mantiq al-tair (Language of the Birds)

Author: Farid al-Din `Attar (ca. 1142–1220)

Object Name: Folio from an illustrated manuscript

Date: ca. 1600

Geography: Made in Iran, Isfahan

Medium: Ink, opaque watercolor, silver, and gold on paper

Dimensions: Painting: H. 7 3/4 in. (19.7 cm)
W. 4 1/2 in. (11.4 cm)
Page: H. 12 7/8 in. (32.7 cm)
W. 8 5/16 in. (21.1 cm)
Mat: H. 19 1/4 in. (48.9 cm)
W. 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm)

Classification: Codices

Credit Line: Fletcher Fund, 1963

Accession Number: 63.210.4


This painting once formed part of a rare surviving illustrated copy of Farid al-Din 'Attar’s mystical poem, the Mantiq al-tair (Language of the Birds). Originally commissioned in the late fifteenth century, the manuscript was left unfinished, completed over a century later during the reign of the Safavid ruler Shah 'Abbas I (r. 1587–1629). Four new paintings were added at that time, including this seventeenth century illustration for the story of a ruffian who spares the life of a poor man.