Bustling with activity, the rocky landscape in this sixteenth-century painting is studded with four tents. The two pitched in the foreground are particularly noteworthy for their brilliant hues and animated designs. A dragon menacingly eyes a phoenix as it slinks about the domed roof of one tent, while the interior fabric of the adjacent tent is covered with nervously hovering angels. The agitated figures seem almost alive, as if they are about to lift off the fabrics, but similar, more stylized designs often embellished Safavid fabrics and carpets, lending them a distinct vibrancy.
Qays (Majnun) first glimpses Layli
From a copy of the Haft awrang (Seven Thrones) by Jami (d. 1492)
Iran, Safavid period, 1556–62
Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper
Purchase–Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art