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Illustrations from the manuscript of the Romance of Varqa and Gulshah, c1250.

Warqa wa Gulshah, Varqa u Gulshah, Varka ve Glah'ta, Varqa o Golh, Le Roman de "Varqe et Golsah."
Scenes from the only known illustrated manuscript of the poem, the Romance of Varqa and Gulshah, by Urwa b Huzam al-'Udhri, with paintings by Abd al Mu'min al Khuwayyi.

The early thirteenth-century manuscript of Varqa and Gulshah in the Topkapi Palace Library (Haz. 841) is the unique copy of the Persian poet Ayyuqi's 11th-century romantic poem about a pair of unfortunate lovers. The manuscript - generally held to be a product of early 13th-century Seljuk Anatolia - is also the earliest surviving example of an illustrated book containing a literary Persian text. Based on a story "told by Arabs," the poem was (re-)composed by Ayyuqi in the eastern Iranian world during the Ghaznavid period. The seventy-one paintings constitute a fascinating corpus of images which indicate a particularly rich realm of artistic process and audience expectation.

A summary of the story of Varqa and Gulshah

Click on the pictures for a larger image.

f.61/58b. Varqa and Gulshah face-to-face

f.62/59b. Chat of the three friends sitting: King of Sham, Varqa and Gulshah

f.63/61a. Scene of farewell; the sleeping king on his throne, in the middle Gulshah, left most Varqa

f.64/62a. The King attends the departure of Varqa on horseback, leaving Sham

f.65/64a. Varqa dead

f.66/65a. Gulshah recites a poem during the separation

f.67/65b. Gulshah goes to the tomb of Varqa and throws herself on the tomb

f.68/66b. Gulshah on the tomb of Varqa

f.69/68a. The King mourns over the tombs of Varqa and Gulshah

f.70/69b. The visit of the Prophet to the tomb; he is seated on a throne, to the right Abu Bakr and Uthman

f.71/70a. Resurrection of Varqa and Gulshah, by the prayer of the Prophet

The artist's name 'Abd al-Mu'min b. Muhammad al-Naqqash al-Khuyi occurs as a witness to the endowment deed of the madrasa founded by the Seljuk amir Jall al-Din Karatay in 1253-54AD at Konya. The artist's signature is fol.58v of the Warqa wa Gulshh manuscript. The nisbah al-Kliuyi shows that he was from Khuy, Azerbaijan. (Grube 1966 p .73; Melikian-Chirvani 1970 pp.79-80; Rogers 1986 p.50).
From the Topkapi Saray Museum, Istanbul, Turkey.

Varqa wa Gulshah, page 1
Varqa wa Gulshah, page 2
Varqa wa Gulshah, page 3
Varqa wa Gulshah, page 4
Varqa wa Gulshah, page 5
Varqa wa Gulshah, page 6

Large Coloured Military Illustrations from the Romance of Varqa and Gulshah
Other Large Coloured Illustrations from the Romance of Varqa and Gulshah
Small Coloured Illustrations of Varka ve Gulsah from the Turkish Cultural Foundation

Seljuk Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers
Index of Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers