Folio from a Divan (collected poems) by Sultan Ahmad Jalayir (d.1410); recto: River scene; verso: text

Historical period(s)
Jalayirid dynasty, circa 1400
Ink and color washes on paper
H x W: 29.4 x 20.6 cm (11 9/16 x 8 1/8 in)
Iran or Iraq
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Manuscript folio

crane, divan, duck, Iran, Iraq, Jalayirid dynasty (1340 - 1432), landscape, poems, river, sultan

From at least 1912-at least 1926
Fredrik Robert Martin (1868-1933), purchased from unidentified dealer in Constantinople [1]

About 1926-1931
Ownership information unknown

From at least 1931-1932
Jacob Hirsch, Ph.D., New York, method of acquisition unknown [2]

From 1932
The Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Dr. Jacob Hirsch, New York [3]


[1] See “Miniatures from the Period of Timur in Manuscripts of the poems of Sultan Ahmad Jalair” [book] (Vienna: printed for the author, 1926), p. 14, pl. VIII. See also p. 27, where Martin recounts buying the manuscript in Constantinople in November 1912. It is unclear when, or to whom, he sold it. Martin was a Swedish diplomat, scholar, collector, art historian and author. Martin documented his journeys in numerous books.

[2] See Laurence Binyon, J.V.S. Wilkinson and Basil Grey, “Persian Miniature Painting: Including a Critical Descriptive catalogue of the Miniatures Exhibited at Burlington House, January-March, 1931” [book] (London: Oxford University Press, 1933), p. 63 no. 36. The manuscript is “Lent by Jacob Hirsch, Geneva”, and “The last eight pages have the borders filled with line drawings and touched with gold and light colour. (These were shown separately at the Exhibition, mounted and framed.)”. Dr. Jacob Hirsch (1874-1955) was a collector of coins, medals, and classical art, as well as a dealer of archaeological objects. He had an eponymous gallery in New York, as well as businesses in Switzerland and Paris. See purchase file F1932.29 for J.E. Lodge letter to Dr. J. Hirsch dated April 9, 1932, wherein Lodge writes that he would come to New York to see the manuscript, implying it is already in the U.S. See also January 4, 1932 letter from M. Aga-Oglu, of the Detroit Institute of Arts, to Dr. Hirsch, noting that he had studied the manuscript and was enclosing it, with the miniatures, for return to Hirsch.

[3] The Freer Gallery of Art paid Dr. Jacob Hirsch in installments, the first on August 1, 1932, and the last on July 3, 1933, and marked approved on June 28, 1932. See object file for copy of invoices.

Research completed December 16, 2022

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Fredrik Robert Martin 1868-1933
Dr. Jacob Hirsch 1874?-1955


Among the Persian manuscripts in the Freer Gallery is a rare volume of poetry written by Sultan Ahmad, the last ruler of the Jalayirid dynasty (Iraq and western Iran, 1336-1410). The sultan's poems concern mystical themes, extolling divind love and praising God the creator. They are set off in this manuscript of the Diwan by delicate tinted drawings that seem to grow out from under the calligraphy and into the margins. Although these unusual scenes do not directly depict their nearest verses, they do evoke the idea of man's quest for spiritual enlightenment, a theme common to virtually all Persian mystical poetry.

This harmonious river scene enhances the poetic vision of an ideal universe where God's creations follow a unified natural rhythm. This work also epitomizes the classical style of Persian painting that began to develop in the second half of the fourteenth century under the auspices of royal patrons such as Sultan Ahmad Jalayirid.

Published References
  • Freer Gallery of Art. Gallery Book III: Exhibition of September 5, 1933. Washington, September 5, 1933. .
  • Fredrik Robert Martin, Sir Thomas W. Arnold. Miniatures from the Period of Timur: In an MS. of the Poems of Sultan Ahmad Jalair. Vienna. p. 14, pl. 8.
  • Tomoko Masuya. Illuminations for the Divan of Sultan Ahmad Jalayir. vol. 1428 Tokyo, 2014. p. 18, fig. 8.
  • Dr. Esin Atil. The Brush of the Masters: Drawings from Iran and India. Exh. cat. Washington, 1978. cat. 7, p. 27.
  • Deborah E. Klimberg Salter. A Sufi Theme in Persian Painting: The Diwan of Sultan Ahmad Gala in the Freer Gallery of Art. vol. 11 Wiesbaden, 1976-1977. pp. 43-84, fig. 10.
  • E. Bahari, I.B. Tauris Publishers. Bihzad, Master of Persian Painting. London and New York. cat. 23, pp. 168-69, fig. 101.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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