This manuscript contains a compilation of works by the renowned 13th-century poet Sa'di. Born in Shiraz, Iran, Sa'di’s takhallus (signature) reflects his relationship with the patron Sa'd b. Zangi (r. 1231–60), ruler of the province of Fars. Closely but not precisely following modern critical editions of Sa'di’s Collected Works, this manuscript includes the texts of “The Exposition of the Preface,” “Five Sermons,” “The Finance Minister’s Question for the Shaykh,” “Treatise on Love and Reason,” “Advice to Kings,” “Three Accounts,” Bustan, Gulistan, Persian Qasidas, and a final set of poems yet to be identified. Each section begins with an illuminated heading, and there are small headings in red ink to mark sub-sections within the text.
It appears that this manuscript was created at the Mughal court of northern India in the early 17th century. Twenty-three paintings have been included: one illustrating the “Five Sermons” and another the “Three Accounts”; thirteen illustrating the Bustan; three illustrating the Gulistan; two illustrating the Persian Qasidas; and three illustrating the final section. Two of these paintings have been ascribed to the great Mughal artists Dharm Das and Hiranand. In addition, one painting is attributed to Aqa Riza Jahangiri, and two further paintings are attributed to Hiranand. However, there is great variety in the paintings, and some fall at unusual locations within the manuscript (see AKM284.15), suggesting that additions may have been made to the manuscript at different times. A colophon at the end of the text supplies the information that it was copied by the renowned calligrapher `Abd al-Rahim al-Haravi, known as Anbarin Qalam (Amber Pen), but it does not mention a date or place of completion. Based on the dates of al-Haravi’s career and the style of the paintings, a date of ca. 1604 has been suggested for the completion of the manuscript.
An abraded seal on the reverse of the first page of text belongs to the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Next to it is an inscription, now scratched out, that might have been added by a Mughal librarian.
The Kulliyat of Sa'di is represented in the Aga Khan Museum Collection by 23 paintings: AKM284.1, AKM284.2, AKM284.3, AKM284.4, AKM284.5, AKM284.6, AKM284.7, AKM284.8, AKM284.9, AKM284.10, AKM284.11, AKM284.12, AKM284.13, AKM284.14, AKM284.15, AKM284.16, AKM284.17, AKM284.18, AKM284.19, AKM284.20, AKM284.21, AKM284.22, and AKM284.23. These paintings were removed from the manuscript prior to the manuscript’s acquisition by the Museum. Blank pages with ruled outer frames have been inserted in the manuscript in the paintings’ original locations.
— Marika Sardar
Beach, Milo Cleveland. Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court. Washington, DC: Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1981. (Catalogued as “Kulliyat of Sa'di, circa 1604, Private Collection”). ISBN: 9780934686372
Brand, Michael. The Vision of Kings: Art and Experience in India. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1995. ISBN: 9780500974384
Canby, Sheila. Princes, Poets and Paladins: Islamic and Indian Paintings from the Collection of Prince and Princess Sadruddin Aga Khan. London: British Museum Press, 1999. ISBN: 9780714114835
Froom, Aimée. Spirit & Life: Masterpieces of Islamic Art from the Aga Khan Museum Collection. Geneva: Aga Khan Trust for Culture, 2007. ISBN: 9782940212026
Welch, Anthony and Stuart Cary Welch. Arts of the Islamic Book: The Collection of Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1982. ISBN: 9780801498824
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