Folio from a Gulistan (Rose garden) by Sa’di; verso: text and illustration: Sa’di and the two Indian robbers; recto: text

Detached folio from a dispersed copy of Gulistan (Rose garden) by Sa’di; text: Persian in black and gold nasta’liq script; recto: text: The story of Sa’di, the inexperienced youth and the Indian bandits, 12 lines; verso: illustration and text: Sa’di and the two Indian robbers.

Historical period(s)
Timurid period, ca. 1490
Opaque watercolor, ink and gold on paper
H x W (overall): 28.4 x 20.3 cm (11 3/16 x 8 in)
Afghanistan, Herat
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Manuscript folio

Afghanistan, donkey, Gulistan, Iran, landscape, man, mule, snake, theft, Timurid period (1378 - 1506)

From late 1960s
Private collector, the Netherlands, from the late 1960s [1]

To 2001
Sam Fogg (Sam Fogg Rare Books and Manuscripts), London, and Francesca Galloway, London, to 2001

From 2001
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Sam Fogg and Francesca Galloway in 2001


[1] According to Curatorial Note 4, Massumeh Farhad, June 14, 2001, in the object record.


Detached folio from a dispersed copy of Gulistan (Rose garden) by Sa'di; text: Persian in black and gold nasta'liq script; recto: text: The story of Sa'di, the inexperienced youth and the Indian bandits, 12 lines; verso: illustration and text: Sa'di and the two Indian robbers.


One of the most popular texts for illustration was the Rosegarden by Sa’di, a collection of moralizing and entertaining tales in rhymed prose interspersed with complementary lines of poetry. This painting relates to one of Sa’di’s “personal”anecdotes about a journey he undertook with a group of Syrians. Reportedly, the travelers hired a strong young man to accompany and protect them from the perils of the road. As soon as two Indian bandits ambushed the caravan, however, the youth panicked and offered no resistance. Sa’di maintains:

A youth, though he may have a strong arm and an elephant body,
His joints may snap asunder for fear of contact with a foe.

The spare, carefully balanced composition, luminous palette, and subtle interplay of gestures and glances are characteristic of late fifteenth-century painting at the court of the last Timurid ruler, Sultan Husayn Bayqara (reigned 1470–1506), one of the most important patrons of the arts of the book in Iran and Central Asia.

Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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