‘Abd al-Rahman Jami
Jami's Works as Examples of the Art of Book Design
(from the holdings of the Manuscripts Department of the National Library of Russia)
Only a few manuscripts are dated to the end of the 15th century. One of them is «Forty Hadith» was rewritten in 903 AH/1498 AD in Herat by the famous calligrapher Sultan Ali Mashhadi who used coloured ink and blue and yellow paper. A little later - in the 16th century, this slender book of eight sheets was embelished with ornamental decorations. At the same time, there appeared pink margins decorated with gold specks and a blue cardboard binding with gold sparks.
More than half of the manuscripts of Jami's literary works were copied in the 16th century. And among them there are fine examples of the art of book design.
Particularly noteworthy is a copy of the Collected Works Kulliyyat, which was completed on 20 Ramadan 933 AH/25 June 1527 AD by the calligrapher Maqsood. The decorative rosette includes a list of writings, contained in this extansive volum, and states that the book was intended for library of Bahram Mirza (Ill. 2).
It is known that the younger brother of the Shah of Iran Tahmasp I, a member of the Safavid dynasty, Prince Bahram Mirza (1517–1550) was appointed the Governor of Herat in 1529. Prince had his library-workshop (kitāb-khāna) headed by the Persian painter and calligrapher Dust Muhammad. But in 1527, Bahram Mirza was 10-year-old boy and, he was probably living in the Iranian capital Tabriz. Therefore, it seems as though that the Kuliyyat was produced in Tahmasp I' workshop. The Kuliyyat is decorated with a double frontispiece and 26 miniatures - headpieces preceding each part. The volume is enclosed in a gold embossed leather binding, a centerpiece of which depicts a tree with birds and two foxes underneath. It is interesting that at the beginning of the 19th century, covers of the binding were renovated: empty parts of the leather without embossing were filled with a gold ornament and then were lacquered. In such way, there were restored bindings of a small collection sent to Nicholas I in 1829 by the Shah of Iran Fath-Ali to apologize for the murder Alexandr Griboyedov, a Russian diplomat and playwright, in the Russia embassy in Tehran.«The Gift of Noble». The manuscript entered the Library in 1805 along with a collection of P. Dubrovsky, a former secretary of the Russian Embassy in France.
Famous Tabriz illustrations adorn two manuscripts from the trophy Ardebil Collection received in 1829, and, in both cases, they are not related to the content and were executed not for these works.
The diptych «Hunting» is attributed to the artist Sultan Muhammad and is pasted into the beginning of the poem «The Chain of Gold», which was rewritten in Ardabil on 1 Shaban 956 AH/25 August 1549 AD by Shah Mahmud Nishapuri, the calligrapher of Tahmasp I. As is known, the year before, Tahmasp moved the capital from Tabriz to Qazvin and dissolved his book workshop, due to the war with the Ottoman Empire. Probably, Shah Mahmud shifted to Ardebil at the court of Prince Sam Mirza, a brother of Tahmasp. The decoration of the manuscript was completed a quarter of a century later: its lacquered binding is dated to 983 AH/ 1575–1576 AD. At the same time, the calligraphic text was set in wide thick blue frame with gold specks, and at the end of the book there was also added a double illustration of 1460–1470, depicting hunting the ruler of western Iran Sultan Uzun Hasa, besides the initial diptych.
The double miniature «The Music Majlis», executed in the 1550s and pasted in the «Tablets» of 978 AH/1570–1571 AD, is attributed by researchers to the Tabriz artist Mirza Ali, the son of Sultan Muhammad. The text was transcribed by the calligrapher Mir Sayyid Ahmad al-Husayni al-Mashhadi al-Katib for the governor of Mazandaran Emir Sultan Murad Khan. The celebrated 16th-century Persian historian Qazi Ahmad in his treatise on the art of calligraph «Gulistan-i Honar» («Garden of Talents») mentioned this copy of »Tablets», which is distinguished not only for its calligraphy, but also for decoration: wide margins of thick blue paper, covered with a gold pattern; illustrations, three of which were made in the 1570s, simultaneously with (Ill. 11) a lacquered binding with figurative painting on a gold background (Ill. 12).
Such practice of compiling codices of parts that were written or illuminated at different times is not uncommon for Persian book art. For example, the poem «Joseph and Zulaikha», from the collection of the Russian envoy to Persia I. Simonich, came from the pen of the calligrapher Sultan Muhammad in 956 AH/1549 AD. At the same time, the text had been supplemented by the addition of decoration, but the manuscript was bound in a lacquered binding only at the end of the 18th century. The inner and outside covers depict scenes from the poem.Ill. 15).
The poem, rewritten by Farid and decorated in 946 AH/ 1539–1540 AD is also dated to the first half of the 16th century. The book has a double frontispiece and five illustrations made, apparently, by a Shiraz artist. The poem «Yusuf and Zulaikha», rewritten by Farid in 946 AH/ 1539–1540 AD, is also decorated by a Shiraz artist in the early 16th century. The book has a double frontispiece and five illustrations.
In total, the second half of the 16th century is represented by 18 manuscripts, many of which are embellished in the best traditions of schools that existed at that time in Iran and Central Asia.
A copy of the philosophical poem «Rosary of the Pious» with five miniatures in Mashhad - Qazvin style is dated to the 1560s. (Qazvin, Mashhad are various regions of Iran). On its lacquered cover, which was not intended for this book, we can see scenes from the poem of Nizami «Khosrow and Shirin» (Ill. 18).
Jami's collected works Kulliyyat, once belonged to the ambassador D. Dolgorukiy and decorated with two diptychs, was created in the 1560s–1570s, likely, in Shiraz.
At the same time, in Bukhara, the famous calligrapher Mir Kulango created a fine copy of the poem «The Gift of Noble», which was decorated with a frontispiece, colourful margins with application and three miniatures of the Bukhara school (Ill. 22).
Some scenes coincide with those that are shown in exquisite miniatures in the Qazvin copy of the same poem, dated to 1570s-1580s (Ill. 23–24). Remarkable colourful pictures of animals and plants, depicted on margins, attract atention.
The same pattern can be seen on some margins of the other Qazvin manuscript – «Salaman and Absal» which was rewrote by Mullah Mir Muhammad ibn al-Husayni in 989 AH/1581 AD. On many margins, cartouches bear painted «portraits» of boys, men and women wearing a variety of hats, typical for the Qazvin miniatures.
Notworthy among manuscripts of the last quarter of the 16th century are a copy of the Collected Works Kulliyyat dated to 1576–1578 (Ill. 26–27) and «Baharestan» («Spring Garden»). To the latter book there was attached an accompanying letter from the governor of the Iranian province Quchan Amir Husayn Shuja 'al-Dawla to Major-General Nikolai Grodekov and a thanksgiving answer from the general, written on 3 April 1881 in Ashgabat.«Baharestan» in 1888 on a loose-leaf, 'This manuscript once was a magnificent book with a picture on the front page, with wonderful frams on pages 2 and 3 and with wide margins, covered with designs painted in gold on the pinkish background. Now it has been worn out and partly broken, but still not quite lost signs of its luxury…'.
Jami's poems continued to be rewritten in Iran, and Central Asia, and India, but there are no works of art among the copies made in the 17th–19th centuries.Ill. 30). At the end, the scribe, whose name is erased, put a quatrain-Rubaie, allegedly, written in Jami's hand in the original manuscript.
گفتی که ترا خرقه سیاهست برنگ
آورده ام این رنگ من از دیر فرنگ
هر لحظه چو ناقوس کشم از دل تنگ
از دوری آن دیر جگرسوز آهنگ
You said your rags were black!
But I brought this colour from the monastery of Franks.
Every moment my anguished heart, separated from the monastery,
Gives a woeful cry, similar to the ringing of bells.
At the same time, in Damascus, Gad-yi 'Ali al-Harawi (ie from Herat) made a postscript stating that the manuscript, intended for the library – byte al-Qutub, had been carefully checked against the original. But then the same person wrote in addition a supplement of Jami's disciple 'Abd al-Ghafur Larry to the «Intimate Breezes from the Sacred Presences» on the margins of the book and in the notebooks added at the end. The scribe finished his work already in Delhi. The manuscript was in North India for some time, as evidenced by one of the surviving owners' records with the seal of 1141 AH/ 1728-1729 AD. Later, the book moved to Khiva, where, in 1874, it was transferred the library as a part of collection amassed by Governor-General of Turkestan K.P. von Kaufman.Ill. 31), in Dagestan (Ill. 32), Central Asia, the Volga region.
Copies of Jami's works have been acquired over the history of our Library, since the founding the Department of Manuscripts in 1805. They were obtained as the trophies of the wars with Iran like, for example, the Ardebil Collection, and Turkey (the Akhaltsikhe and Erzurum Collections), and khanates of Central Asia. The manuscripts were also presented as the diplomatic gifts from Shah of Iran and the Emir of Bukhara. The books were parts of the collections of Russian envoys I. Simonich and D. Dolgoruky, of orientalists F. Erdman, N. Khanykov, G. Freitag. Individual manuscripts were obtained from different persons (Aliyev, Abdukarimov, the antiquarian Weng, General Grodekov, etc.) and institutions such as the Russian Geographical Society. Thus, acquisitions from different years has formed a unique set of hand-written books with the works of the classic of Persian and Tajik literature Abdurrahman Jami.