From: Haf Pakir of the Khamsa of Nizami
Author: Maulana Azhar
Date: 1141-1217 CE, Tirmurid Period
Medium: ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Barham Gur and the Indian Princess in the Black Palace on Saturday is a folio from Haf Pakir of the Khamsa of Nizami. It was created around 1141-1217, the Tirmurid Period, in what is now present-day Pakistan. The calligraphy was written by Maulana Azhar, and illustrated using ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper. The Haft Pakir (Seven Beauties, or Seven Portraits) is a romantic epic poem about the life of the Sasanian king Bahram Gur. The epic features seven princesses, all of whom are married to Bahram. On each day of the week, the king visited one princesses, who would tell him a story in the tone of her specific color and mood (Harvard). This particular illustration depicts Bahram Gur’s visit on Saturday to the see the Indian princess, who lives in a black pavilion. The king and his bride wear dark robes patterned with gold, matching the black-domed palace, drinking as female servants and performers attend to them. As seen in Islamic architecture, the written word is seen carved into the stone of the palace walls. The illuminated text boxes are embedded in the palace architecture, becoming a part of the ornate painted surface. This work is significant in that it represents an Indian figure. Here a woman represents India, while in The Elephant Clock it is symbolized by the Indian elephant. The princess sits to the left of Bahram, recognizable by her light brown skin and the white head wrapping beneath her crown. She has small, narrow eyes typical of the period style. Unlike the Indian pilgrim in The Mountains Between India and Tibet, her skin is not lightened to fit the idealized standard of female royalty. Her lavishly decorated dress, almost identical to her husband’s, bears distinctly Tirmurid patterns. The fabric is decorated with highly intricate floral decorations, and reflects the star-shaped geometry on the walls of the palace. The couple is almost an extension of the the walls, the pattern of their clothes extending into the rug and floor.