Folio from a Gulistan (Rosegarden) by Sa’di; recto: Sa’di in the rose garden; verso: text

Artist: Attributed to Govardhan
Calligrapher: Sultan 'Ali Mashhadi
Historical period(s)
Mughal dynasty, Reign of Shah Jahan, Dated 1468-69 (873 A.H.), margins added early 16th century, illustrations: Mughal period, ca. 1645
Ink, gold, and opaque watercolor on paper
H x W (open): 25.4 x 33.9 cm (10 x 13 3/8 in)
Historic Iran, present-day Afghanistan
Credit Line
Gift of the Art and History Trust in honor of Ezzat-Malek Soudavar
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Manuscript folio

Afghanistan, dragon, garden, Gulistan, illumination, India, Iran, lion, Mughal dynasty (1526 - 1858), phoenix, Reign of Shah Jahan (1628 - 1658)

Shah Tahmasp (reigned 1524-1576), Persia [1]

From at least 1558
Akbar (reigned 1556-1605), India, from at least 1558 [2]

Mughal Imperial Library [3]

From at least 1644
Jahan-ara, daughter of Shah Jahan (reigned 1628-1658), from at least 1644 [4]

Marquis of Bute, England [5]

To 1998
The Art and History Trust, Liechtenstein, to 1998

From 1998
Freer Gallery of Art, given by the Art and History Trust in 1998 [6]


[1] According to Curatorial Note 1, Massumeh Farhad, March 16, 1998, in the object record.

[2] See note 1.

[3] See note 1.

[4] See note 1. Shah-Jahan, was the grandson of Akbar.

[5] According to Curatorial Note 3 in the object record.

[6] The Art and History Trust was established in 1991 by Abolala Soudavar and his family of distinguished bibliophiles. Gathered over a period of some thirty years, the collection is presently on long-term loan to the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. However, this particular manuscript was given in honor of Ezzat-Malek Soudavar to the Freer Gallery of Art on the occasion of its seventy-fifth anniversary (see Curatorial Note 3, Massumeh Farhad, August 18, 1998, in the object record).

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

The Art and History Trust
Mughal Imperial Library
Shah Tahmasp 1524-1576
Akbar reigned 1556-1605


The Mughal rulers of India, who reigned over much of northern India from 1526 to 1858, claimed descent from the Timurids and considered themselves the rightful heirs to their military, political, and cultural legacy. To reinforce their heritage, the Mughals avidly collected Timurid illustrated manuscripts and luxury goods. The folio belongs to an illustrated manuscript of Sa'di's Gulistan (Rose garden), which was copied in Herat in 1468-69 and was among the most prized possessions in the Mughal royal library. Sometime before the mid-seventeenth century, the manuscript suffered water damage, and the illustrations were repainted by some of the leading court artists of Shah Jahan (reigned 1628-57).

Govardhan, a painter known for his interest in naturalism that was inspired by European pictorial conventions, is responsible for this sensitively rendered image of the author of the Gulistan and a companion. The idealized landscape, two-dimensional spatial organization, and subdued color scheme relate to Timurid artistic ideals.

Published References
  • Elizabeth B. Moynihan. The New Cambridge History of India. 4 vols., New York and Cambridge. Part 1, vol. 3: p. 139.
  • Massumeh Farhad, Mary McWilliams, Simon Rettig. A Collector's Passion: Ezzat-Malek Soudavar and Persian Lacquer. Washington and Cambridge, Massachusetts. 19.
  • Thomas Lawton, Thomas W. Lentz. Beyond the Legacy: Anniversary Acquisitions for the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. vol. 1 Washington, 1998. pp. 19, fig. 1-2.
  • James T. Ulak. A Decade of Remarkable Growth: Acquisitions by the Freer and Sackler Galleries. vol. 166 no. 548 London, 2007. p. 42.
  • The Moonlight Garden: New Discoveries at the Taj Mahal. Washington, 2000. p. 78.
  • Abolala Soudavar, Milo Cleveland Beach. Art of the Persian Courts: Selections from the Art and History Trust Collection. New York. cat. 136, pp. 333, 335,197.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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