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Culture:Iranian (Persian)
Title:Illuminated Page with the Poetry of Omar Khayyam
Date Made:19th century
Materials:opaque colors, possibly gouache, and gold on parchment
Place Made:Iran; Qajar or India; Kashmir
Measurements:sheet: 11 x 7 1/2 in.; 27.94 x 19.05 cm
Accession Number:  SC 1990.2.22
Credit Line:Gift of Mrs. Evan M. Wilson (Leila Fosburgh, class of 1934)
Museum Collection:  Smith College Museum of Art

text from Khayyam's scientific treatise and poetry, in two styles, with the compositional device of a carpet pattern

Label Text:
This page, and 1990:2-23, appear to have been made as a double frontispiece for a manuscript of Omar Jhayyam's scientific treatises; known in the west primarily as a poet, Khayyam (d. 1123), a native of Nishapur, was above all a noted philosopher, mathematician, and astronomer; the central ogival frames and their finials contain information on the manuscript and its author while the border cartouches give a sampling of Khayyam's quatrains; although most of the poetry does not belong to the standard corpus of the poet, one quatrain is among his most famous
"I was in the potter's shop last night,
And saw two thousand jugs, some speaking, some dumb;
Each was anxiously asking,
'Where is the potter, and the buyer and seller of pots?'"
(translation from P. Avery & J. Heath-Stubbs, "The Ruba'iyat of Omar Khayyam", Penguin classics, 1981, p. 64)
based on the compositional device of a carpet pattern, the finely illuminated decorative motifs, the expert manner of the writing in cursive hand (in two styles), and the unusual choice of parchment, a material not in use since the 10th century, may indicate that these pages resulted from an expensive experiment.


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