From: Jami’ al-Tawarikh (aka: History of the World)
Author: Rashid al-Din
Date: 1314 C.E.
Medium: Ink on parchment
This folio is roughly titled 14th-century Persian manuscript shows Genghis Khan and three of his four sons. The Kufic inscription states “In Jumada II 601 (January 1205), commenced auspiciously Genghis Khan arrayed his army and set out on a campaign against Qāshīn, the territory that is also called Tangqūt…” (The Library). In 1314 the manuscript was produced in the city of Tabriz, which was ruled by Ilkhanid rulers, descendants of the Mongol Chingiz Khan. These Mongol-descendents held control over Persia and most of present-day Azerbaijan and Turkey.
This folio is from Jami’ al-Tawarikh (History of the World) by Rashid al-Din, one of the most famous illustrated medieval manuscripts in the world. The Arabic copy of Jami’ al-Tawarikh covers the history of the world up until the 1300s, including the history of the Mongols, Chinese, Franks and Indians (Saudi). The Jami’ al-Tawarikh manuscript demonstrates a fusion of stylistic techniques and imagery from multiple cultures. Persia was one of the multicultural capitols of the Muslim world, and thus we see Persian art reflecting the influx of cultural aesthetics and the integration of new styles into the Middle Eastern muslim art canon. In The Elephant Clock, Persia is represented as a woven rug laid across the back of the Indian elephant. Al-Jazari uses the carpet to serve as homage to a melting pot of culture, art, and literature in Persia.
As was typical in Persian manuscripts of the Tirmurid period, the figures are represented with round faces and small, slanted eyes. Their Mongol heritage is recognizable by their armor; including Mongolian pointed helmets. Another clue to their culture is the white horse entering the right side of the page. The mongols were famous for being expert horsemen, so it’s fitting to see such an revered animal included in the illustration.