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


Warqa wa Gulshah, Varqa u Gulshah, Varka ve Glah'ta, Varqa o Golh, 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.

A summary of the story of Varqa and Gulshah

Click on the pictures for a larger image.

f.51/48a. They brought Varqa to the tomb of the sheep



f.52/49a. Visit of Hilal to Varqa



f.53/50a. Varqa opens the tomb and finds the corpse of the sheep


f.54/51a. Varqa leaves his tribe after learning the truth



f.55/52b. The King of Sham on horseback, brings the wounded Varqa to his palace



f.56/53b. Varqa lies wounded in bed



f.57/55a. Varqa on a throne



f.58/55b. Gulshah half-reclining on a throne, found the ring in the milk



f.59/56a. Fainting of Varqa and of Gulshah seeing themselves from afar



f.60/57b. The King of Sham between Varqa and Gulshh; inside a tent.


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 Jall al-Din Karatay in 1253-54AD at Konya. The artist's signature is fol.58v of the Warqa wa Gulshh 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 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 7

Large Coloured Military Illustrations from the Romance of Varqa and Gulshah

Seljuk Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers