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MUHAMMAD YAHYA BIN SIBAK (D. AH 852/1448-49 AD): HUSN U DIL
A RARE AND EARLY TEXT COPIED FOR THE QARAQOYUNLU GOVERNOR OF BAGHDAD
MUHAMMAD YAHYA BIN SIBAK (D. AH 852/1448-49 AD): HUSN U DIL

SIGNED MIRAK AL-SHIRAZI, BAGHDAD, DATED AH 868/1463-64 AD

Details
MUHAMMAD YAHYA BIN SIBAK (D. AH 852/1448-49 AD): HUSN U DIL
SIGNED MIRAK AL-SHIRAZI, BAGHDAD, DATED AH 868/1463-64 AD
Beauty and Heart, the summary of the allegorical epic Dastur-i 'Ushshaq, the 'Handbook for Lovers', Persian manuscript on paper, 157ff. plus 4 fly-leaves, each folio with 17ll. of neat black nasta'liq, headings in red or gold, catchwords, opening bifolium with extremely fine illumination surrounding two shamsas, following folio with similarly illuminated headpiece, followed by text in single block and with important words picked out in gold, end of the section with illuminated cartouche and further shamsa followed by another headpiece and text in two columns with double gold intercolumnar rule, final 3ff. with some lines written diagonally with illuminated spandrels, colophon with scribe's name, date and stating it was done bi dar al-salam Baghdad, surrounded by further panels of illumination, some worm holing, lacking binding
Text panel 7 3/8 x 3 1/8in. (18.7 x 8cm.) Folio 9¾ x 4 7/8in. (24.2 x 11.6cm.)

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Lot Essay

The shamsas on the frontispiece of this manuscript bear the following inscriptions, bi-rasm khazana zill allah al-manar abu'l-fath pir budaq khallada dawlatahu, 'On the order of the treasury of the Shadow of God, the Beacon, Abu'l-Fath Pir Budaq, [God] perpetuate his fortune' and hadhihi nuskha mawsuma bi-khush vazn min maqulat yahya sibak 'alayhi al-rahma, 'This is a manuscript adorned by beautiful verse from the sayings of Yahay Sibak, [God's] mercy upon him'.

As documented in the shamsas, this beautifully illuminated manuscript was commissioned by Abu'l Fath Pir Budaq. Pir Budaq (d.1466) was the eldest son of the Qaraqoyunlu ruler Jahanshah (r.1439-1467). He led the important Turkoman assault on the Timurid territories of central Iran, conquering both Fars and Kirman. He was awarded the governorship of Shiraz, where he began to act with increasing independence and in defiance of his father. In spite of escalating tensions between the two, Pir Budaq was eventually offered governorship of Baghdad, the former seat of the Islamic world. There he asserted his autonomy by striking coins in his own name and replacing his father's name with his own in the Friday sermon. Jahanshah took this direct challenge badly, marched on Baghdad and after a siege of eighteen months, took the city and killed Pir Budaq. For more on Pir Budaq, please see B.W. Robinson, Studies in Persian Art, vol. I, The Pindar Press, London, 1993, pp.18, 22 and 228-229.

Two manuscripts copied for the library of Pir Budaq were exhibited in the exhibition 'Turks. A Journey of A Thousand Years, 600-1600' in the Royal Academy. The first of these is a Diwan of Qasim, copied by Sheikh Mahmud Pir Budaqi and dedicated to Pir Budaq in 'the last days' of Jumada II AH 863/early May 1459 AD (also published in T.Lentz and G.Lowry, Timur and the Princely Vision - Persian Art and Culture in the Fifteenth Century, exhibition catalogue, Los Angeles and Washington, 1989, no.139, pp.248-49). The other was a Diwan of Katibi, copied by 'Abd al-Rahman al-Khvarazmi dedicated to Pir Budaq and dated Jumada I AH 860/April-May 1456 AD (David J. Roxburgh (ed.), Turks. A Journey of A Thousand Years, 600-1600, exhibition catalogue, London, 2005, no. 212 and 213). The latter was, according to Roxburgh, the earliest known commission of Pir Budaq. Two others are known, one a copy of a work by Amir Khosraw, dated AH 867/1463-64 AD in Istanbul (TS R. 1021) and a work dated AH 870/1465-66 AD in the India Office Library (B. Gray (ed.), The Arts of the Book in Central Asia- 14th-16th Centuries, Unesco, Paris, 1979, p. 217).

B. W. Robinson identifies a group of illustrated manuscripts which is associated with the patronage of Pir Budaq covering the period 1455-65 (B. Gray (ed.), p. cit., p. 217). Those attributed to the period of his patronage in Shiraz (1456-60) respond stylistically to the local traditions in Shiraz. One folio of such a manuscript is in the Art and History Trust Collection (who also in fact possess a seal of Pir Budaq, similar but not identical to that found on our manuscript, Abolala Soudavar, Art of the Persian Courts, Geneva, 1992, nos.43-44, pp.129-30). The Baghdad manuscripts (listed above, all dating from the period when Pir Budaq was governor there between 1460-66) are referred to by Robinson as being more 'mature' showing the impact of the Herat tradition developed under Baysunghur's patronage. The majority are volumes of unillustrated poetry - either diwans or anthologies of selected verses by different poets, or longer works of individual poets including Jalal-ad-Din Rumi and Amir Khusraw Dehlavi. Each manuscript is characterised by crisp paper, fine calligraphy, exquisite binding and inventive illumination - which decorates not only the standard places where it would be expected, but also at the end of sections below or facing the colophon, as in the present manuscript (Roxburgh, op.cit., p.429). Indeed this new style, heavily influenced by Herat, continued in Baghdad into the Aqqoyunlu period. A manuscript in the Khalili collection, which has a dedication to Sultan Khalil shares very similar illumination to ours despite being copied some fifteen years later (J.M.Rogers, The Arts of Islam. Treasures from the Nasser D. Khalili Collection, exhibition catalogue, Abu Dhabi, 2007, no. 205, p.173).

Pir Budaq's refined taste is underscored by the selection of the most eminent calligraphers of his day to copy his books. They include Sheikh Mahmud, Azhar and Abdul-Rahman al-Khvarazmi. Although not much is known of the scribe of the present manuscript, Mirak al-Shirazi, he is recorded by Mehdi Bayani as having copied a Diwan of Awhadi in Baghdad in Ramadan AH 870/April-May 1466 AD. He describes the colophon of that manuscript, which is written exactly as the present one. That manuscript is now in the Royal Library in Tehran. He is also known to have copied two calligraphic panels (one in Istanbul in the Awqaf library and the other in the National Parliamentary Library. (Mehdi Bayani, Ahval ve asar-e Khoshnevisan, Vol. 3, Tehran, 1348, pp.933-34). It is tempting to suggest that given our scribe's nisba, Pir Budaq came into contact with him in Shiraz, later bringing him back with him to Baghdad. He is known to have done similar with the Herati scribe, Mahmud Haravi, who entered his service during his time in Shiraz and followed him to Baghdad. A manuscript in the Aga Khan Collection is copied by him for Pir Budaq (Schätze des Aga Khan Museum. Meisterwerke der islamischen Kunst, exhibition catalogue, Berlin, 2010, no.33, p.67).

This is an early copy of a rare text. Husn wa Dil or 'Beauty and Heart' is a short summary of the long allegorical epic Dastur-I 'Ushshaq, the 'Handbook for Lovers', which was composed in AH 840/1436-37 AD, and was a semi-psychological, semi-symbolic work of fiction written in easily comprehensible prose, interspersed with verse. It deals with the most profound problems of mysticism by personifying parts of the human body and various human qualities. As J. Rypka refers to it, it is a true "index of the methaphorical language of oriental erotics" (J. Rypka, History of Iranian Literature, Holland, 1968, pp.284-85).
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