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A Saljuq Mināʾi beaker, Kashan, Iran, late 12th century.

HISTORICAL PERIOD: Saljuq period, late 12th century
MEDIUM: Stone-paste painted under glaze and over glaze with enamel (mina'i)
STYLE: Mina'i ware
DIMENSIONS: H x W x D: 12 x 11.2 x 11.2 cm (4 3/4 x 4 7/16 x 4 7/16 in)
GEOGRAPHY: Iran, Kashan
CREDIT LINE: Purchase Charles Lang Freer Endowment
CLASSIFICATION(S): Ceramic, Vessel
TYPE: Beaker
PROVENANCE: 1928 Parish-Watson Company, New York 1928. From 1928 Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Parish-Watson Company, New York in 1928

DESCRIPTION: Beaker of slightly spreading cylindrical form on a low foot rim; broken and repaired. Clay: soft, white.
Glaze: white, stanniferous.
Decoration painted in red, blue, grayish-yellow and pale green enamels over glaze: Bizhan and Manizha from the Shahnamah.

This celebrated beaker is the only known object from the Islamic world that is illustrated with a complete narrative cycle from the Shahnama, the Persian Book of Kings. Organized in horizontal bands, the small but highly detailed images recount the adventures of Bizhan and Manizha, beginning with Firdawsi's beloved telling the story. The climax in the narrative appears in the lower register and depicts Rustam rescuing Bizhan from the pit where he has been imprisoned by the Turanian king Afrasiyab, Manizha's evil father. This pictorial cycle predates any other depictions of the Bizhan and Manizha romance by some one hundred years.

It is interesting to note that the adventures of the two lovers appear on a drinking cup, a vessel of particular ritual significance in royal banquets during the ancient and Islamic periods.

Source: Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. F1928.2

Back to the views from other angles of this Saljuq Mina'i beaker with the story of Bijan and Manija, Kashan, Iran, late 12th century. Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. F1928.2.

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