Folio from a Khamsa (Quintet) of Amir Khusraw Dihlavi; the traitorous vizier tries to make love to the queen

Historical period(s)
Delhi Sultanate period, ca. 1450 or earlier
Pre-Mughal School
Opaque watercolor and ink on paper
H x W: 34 x 26 cm (13 3/8 x 10 1/4 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Manuscript folio

Delhi Sultanate (1206 - 1526), India, Khamsa, nasta'liq script, queen, vizier
Provenance research underway.

Poets and painters associated with the Sultanate courts of India created an artistic culture that integrated Persian, Islamic and local elements. The author of the Khamsa (Quintet), the great poet, musician and mystic Amir Khusrau (ca. 1253-1325), composed poetry in both Persian and Hindi. Two centuries later, painters at another Sultanate court depicted the Khamsa stories in a style that combined the strong color of local Indian painting with the rounded silhouettes and three-quarter profile faces of near Eastern painting.

The entertaining Khamsa stories often convey a moral lesson. This page tells the tale of a minister who disguised himself as the king in order to seduce the queen. The vizier was discredited when his ruse was exposed.

Published References
  • The Arts of India. Oxford. .
  • Anis Farooqi. Art of India and Persia. New Delhi. pl. 7.
  • Richard Ettinghausen. Paintings of the Sultans and Emperors of India in American Collections. Lalit Kala Series of Indian Art New Delhi. pl. 1.
  • An Age of Splendour: Islamic Art in India. Bombay. p. 4.
  • Eloise Brac de la Perriere. Les manuscrits a peintures dans l'Inde des sultanats: l'exemple de la Khamse dispersee d'Amir Khosrow Dehlavi, c. 1450. vol. 56. p. 39, fig. 31.
  • Milo Cleveland Beach. The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court., 2nd ed. Washington and Ahmedabad, India, 2012. cat. 1A, pp. 42-3.
  • Milo Cleveland Beach. The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court. Exh. cat. Washington, 1981. cat. 2a, pp. 45-46.
  • Karl J. Khandalavala, Moti Chandra. New Documents of Indian Painting: A Reappraisal. Bombay. p. 46, pl. 8.
  • Douglas Barrett. Paintings from Islamic Lands: Essays. Oriental Studies, no. 4 Oxford and London. p. 129, fig. 83.
  • Peoples and Places of the Past: The National Geographic Illustrated Cultural Atlas of the Ancient World. Washington. p. 218.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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