Habiballah of Sava: Language of the Birds (ca. 1600)

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Folio 11r from a Mantiq al-tair (Language of the Birds) by Habiballah of Sava (active ca. 1590–1610) detail

The illustration on this folio depicts a scene from a mystical poem, Mantiq al-tair (Language of the Birds), written by a twelfth-century Iranian, Farid al-Din ‘Attar. The birds, which symbolize individual souls in search of the simurgh (a mystical bird representing ultimate spiritual unity), are assembled in an idyllic landscape to begin their pilgrimage under the leadership of a hoopoe (perched on a rock at center right). The careful, harmonious composition is consistent with that of the late fifteenth-century Timurid miniatures also in the manuscript, but three factors indicate that this image is later: the presence of the hunter, who has no place in the narrative; his firearm, a weapon that gained currency in Iran after the mid-sixteenth century; and the signature of the late sixteenth- to early seventeenth-century artist Habiballah

 

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Folio 11r from a Mantiq al-tair (Language of the Birds) by Habiballah of Sava (active ca. 1590–1610) detail

 

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Folio 11r from a Mantiq al-tair (Language of the Birds) by Habiballah of Sava (active ca. 1590–1610) detail

 

Click for enlarged image:

 

“The Concourse of the Birds”, Folio 11r from a Mantiq al-tair

(Language of the Birds)

 

Artist: Painting by Habiballah of Sava (active ca. 1590–1610)
Author: Farid al-Din `Attar (ca. 1142–1220)Iran
Object Name: Folio from an illustrated manuscript
Date: ca. 1600
Geography: Attributed to Iran, Isfahan
Medium: Ink, opaque watercolor, gold, and silver on paper

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