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


Warqa wa Gulshah, Varqa u Gulshah, Varka ve Gülşah'ta, Varqa o Golšãh, 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 (Haz. 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.

Click on the pictures for a larger image.

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



The young Varqa and Gulshah seated before their teacher.



Varqa pays a farewell visit to his lover Gulshah before his departure for Yemen.
They sit in a tent, while birds are depicted in the trees.



f.33b. Varqa pays a farewell visit to his lover Gulshah before his departure for Yemen.
They stand amongst trees and birds.



Gulshah suffers alone in her tent, while outside her mother is seated, and two cats fight.



Varqa, wounded by the king of Sham, his second rival for the hand of Gulshah, lies in bed, attended by a servant.




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 Jalãl al-Din Karatay in 1253-54AD at Konya. The artist's signature is fol.58v of the Warqa wa Gulshãh 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.

For a nearly complete set of images in order see:
Varqa wa Gulshah, page 1
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
Small Coloured Illustrations of Varka ve Gulsah from the Turkish Cultural Foundation

Seljuk Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers