An illustrated 16th-century copy of the Mas̱navī-ʼi maʻnavī by Jalāl-al-Dīn Rūmī (d. 1273)
The Mas̱navī-ʼi maʻnavī
Rumi's Mas̱navī-‘i Maʻnavī (‘Spiritual Masnavi’) was composed in the 13th century and is a monumental work of poetry in the Sufi tradition of Islamic mysticism. Divided into six books, it has served as an inspiration for Sufis and others worldwide and is today perhaps the best known work of Persian literature.
This manuscript was created around 1530 in Safavid Iran. Whereas the majority of Mas̱navī manuscripts are unillustrated, this one contains nineteen paintings in addition to an exquisitely illuminated opening (ff. 2v–3r, digitised image 3) and headings to each of the six books. Folio 1v (digitised image 1) illustrates dervishes in a state of samāʻ (‘listening’) and on the facing page (f. 2r, digitised image 2) we see a poet with his companions.