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Gum tempera, ink, and gold on paper
Text area: 17.8 x 9.5 cm (7 x 3 3/4 in.); Page: 31.6 x 20.4 cm (12 7/16 x 8 1/16 in.)
Gift in honor of Madeline Neves Clapp; Gift of Mrs. Henry White Cannon by exchange; Bequest of Louise T. Cooper; Leonard C. Hanna Jr. Fund; From the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection 2013.315.1.b
This section of text from Jami’s poem of Joseph and Zulaykha, written diagonally in the margins, describes the beauties of Zulaykha’s house, in which she intends to seduce Joseph. It includes the following verses: Jeweled lamps on the walls were hung / And odorous herbs were beneath them flung. / She gathered together all things most fair, / And unrolled the carpet of pleasure there. / But amid the charms of the sumptuous hall / She longed only for Joseph, far dearer than all. / A heavenly palace is dark and dim / To a lover whose darling is far from him.
The longing of Zulaykha for Joseph metaphorically describes an imperfect devotee’s mystical love for God. With patience, forbearance, and virtuous actions, unification with the divine will eventually occur, even for the most flawed among us. On this page also begins the Khirad-nama-i Iskandari (Alexander’s Book of Wisdom), another of the five narrative poems that make up the Panj Ganj.
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