© The Aga Khan Museum
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Ottoman emperor Sultan Murad III (r. 1574–95) commissioned this unique manuscript, which relates various tales of the lovers Shah Ramin, son and heir of King Ardashir, and Mah-Pervin, daughter of the King’s vizier.
Here, Shah Ramin and his companions first lay eyes on an enchanted fortress. Raising their fingers to their lips in astonishment, they regard its four immense towers carrying guardians of the city: four metal knights, each of whom wields a weapon and rides a fantastic steed—lion, elephant, horse, or unicorn. Unbeknownst to Shah Ramin, the mouths of these knights will emit a flood of water when he opens the citadel’s gates.