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


Warqa wa Gulshah, Varqa u Gulshah, Varka ve Gülțah'ta, Varqa o Golšăh, 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 (Hazine 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.

Note the occassional kite shield, fully caparisoned horse, and camel mounted drummer. Blue is sometimes used to indicate iron/steel.

A summary of the story of Varqa and Gulshah

French captions on individual pages from Un Vieux Poème Romanesque Persan: Recit De Warqah Et Gulshàh Par Ahmed Ates. ARS ORIENTALIS VOLUME IV 1961
Click on the pictures for a larger image.

f.1/3b. Bazaar at the camp of the Banu Shayba, with (left to right) a jeweller's, a herbalist, a butcher's, and a baker's.



f.2/4a. Warqah and Gulshah before their tutor sitting on a throne



f.3/6a. Night Attack of Rabi‘ b. ‘Adnan

Rabi and a companion are shown as armoured cavalrymen wearing lamellar jawshan cuirasses plus mail hauberks beneath their tunics. They are armed with long single-edged swords and large round shields. They are supported by infantrymen with kite-shaped shields.



f.4/7b. Representation of the night attack of Rabi‘ b. ‘Adnan



f.5/8b. Gulshah in the tent of Rabi‘; to the right and left four servants bearing gifts to Gulshah



f.6/9a. Description of the condition of Banu Shaybah, killed or wounded, after the night attack



f.7/9b. Warqa talks to Gulsha's father.



f.8/10a. Departure of the Banu Shaybah for the war of vengeance



f.9/11a. The war of the Banu Shaybah with the Banu Dabya



f.10/12a. The war of the Banu Shaybah with the Banu Dabya


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 Jalăl al-Din Karatay in 1253-54AD at Konya. The artist's signature is fol.58v of the Warqa wa Gulshăh 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 2
Varqa wa Gulshah, page 3
Varqa wa Gulshah, page 4
Varqa wa Gulshah, page 5
Varqa wa Gulshah, page 6
Varqa wa Gulshah, page 7

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