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Manuscript of Halnameh (Book of Ecstasy) of 'Arifi

  • Accession Number:AKM522
  • Place:Iran
  • Dimensions:21.3 x 13.1 cm
  • Date:1560–1580
  • Materials and Technique:Opaque watercolour, gold, ink, paper

This mystical poem by 'Arifi (d. circa 1449 CE) uses the concept of the polo ball and mallet as a metaphor for yearning for and being spurned by the beloved. In the painting a dervish on the edge of a rocky horizon observes a princely polo player who is accompanied by an attendant carrying a mallet. The illustration is stylistically close to the work of 'Ali Asghar who worked in Qazvin in the 1570s and 1580s and joined the kitabkhana of Shah 'Abbas I upon his accession in 1587 CE. 'Ali Asghar illustrated two manuscripts of Guy u Chawgan and one of Shah u Darvish of Hilali that all include polo-playing scenes (Robinson 1988, p. 126). The jutting rocks, sharply bent elbows and treatment of the hair of the dervish recall these equally small-scale works by 'Ali Asghar.


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