The Khamsa
of Nizami

A leaf from the 15th-century Timurid Dynasty book.

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This manuscript is called the "Khamsa (Quintet) of Nizami" or "The Five Tales" by the 12th-century poet Nizami and is one of the greatest works of Persian literature.

This particular page has fourteen verses, rhymed in the epic style - every hemistich rhymes only with its own counterpart. The poetic form here is called the masnavi form; it is not one of Nizami’s gassidas or gazals. These verses seem randomly descriptive, with no proper names or places, and the specific context of this part of the story is unclear. The gist is festive and very grand, describing a young king waking, and people celebrating with wine being served. It expounds on the beauty of Nature and eulogizes the king.

The image comes from the original in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (accession #60.176), a gift of John Goelet, provided by the Art Museum Image Consortium, AMICO. The page is on paper measuring 33.5 x 20.3cm (c. 13 3/16 x 8 in.).

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