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Treasures of Islamic Manuscript Painting from the Morgan
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ḤusĀm Al-Dīn Chelebi, in a Dream, Sees the Prophet MuḤammad Reading Rūmī's Masnavī
Tarjuma-i Thawāqib-i manāqib (A Translation of Stars of the Legend), in Turkish. The translation was ordered in 1590 by Sultan Murād III (r. 1574–95) from the Persian abridgement of Aflākī. Baghdad, 1590s.

228 x 145 mm.
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1911.; MS M.466, fol. 156r.

According to Aflākī's biography, Ḥusām Chelebi (d. 1284), Rūmī's beloved successor, dreamed that he not only saw Muḥammad holding and reading from Rūmī's Masnavī, but the prophet also praised the author. Jami, a fifteenth-century poet, went so far as to write that Rūmī's spiritual couplets are the Qur˒an in the Persian tongue. Here, Muḥammad, with a flaming halo and a veil over his face, reads to a group of men, including the young Ḥasan and Ḥusain, sons of ˓Alī and Fāṭima, Muḥammad's daughter. An old man with a Mevlevī turban (Rūmī?) and a young man holding a rose (Ḥusām, Rūmī's beloved disciple?) are seated on the balcony.

This miniature is part of a sixteenth-century manuscript account of the life and miracles of the Persian poet and mystic known as Rūmī. It is a Turkish translation of an abridged version of the original fourteenth-century Persian account by the dervish known as Aflākī.

Rūmī, Persian Mystic And Poet
The sixteenth-century miniatures presented here concern the life and miracles of Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī, called Mē vlāna (Our Master), the most famous member of the Mevlevī order and Persia's greatest Sufi mystic and poet. He was born in Balkh in 1207, but his family emigrated after his father foresaw the Mongol conquest. They eventually resettled in Konya, Turkey, then the capital of Anatolian Rūm (thus Rūmī), where the poet died on 17 December 1273.

Several Persian accounts of Rūmī's life have been written, the first by his son, Sultan Walad. The third, laden with moralizing miracle stories, was ordered by Rūmī's grandson Ulu ˓Ārif Chelebi. It was written by the dervish Shams al-Dīn Aḥmad, called Aflākī (d. 1360). Aflākī also incorporated verses from Rūmī's works, notably his six-volume Masnavī (a poetical form of rhyming couplets) and the Dīvān-i-Shams al-Dīn Tabrīzī, named after Shams of Tabriz, the mystic who changed Rūmī's life and transformed him into a poet when they met in 1244.

In 1590—three and a half centuries after Aflākī wrote his life of Rūmī—the Ottoman sultan Mūrad III ordered a Turkish translation of a 1540 abridged version of Aflākī's text entitled Tarjuma-i Thawāqib-i manāqib (Stars of the Legend). The translator was Darvīsh Mahmud Mesnevī Khān of Konya. Two illustrated copies of the Murād translation, both made in Baghdad, survive. One, dated 1599, is held by Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, and has twenty-two miniatures. The other, richer manuscript is held by the Morgan. It dates to the 1590s and includes twenty-nine miniatures. They are all featured here, along with two folios from other collections that are believed to have once been part of the Morgan manuscript.


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