Folio from a Yusuf u Zulaykha by Jami (d. 1492); recto: Zulaykha’s maids entertain Yusuf in the garden; verso: text

View right to left

Author: Jami (died 1492)
Historical period(s)
Safavid period, circa 1575
Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper
H x W (overall): 28.2 x 18.6 cm (11 1/8 x 7 5/16 in) H x W (image): 19.2 x 11.3 cm (7 9/16 x 4 7/16 in)
Iran, Khurasan
Credit Line
Purchase — Smithsonian Unrestricted Trust Funds, Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program, and Dr. Arthur M. Sackler
Arthur M. Sackler Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Manuscript, Painting

Detached manuscript folio

garden, Henri Vever collection, Iran, Safavid period (1501 - 1722), Yusuf, Zulaykha

To at least 1922
Moussa, Tehran, Iran. [1]

Sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, Objets d'art Anciens de la Perse, May 5-6, 1922, no. 113. [2]

To 1942
Henri Vever (1854-1942), Paris and Noyers, France. [3]

From 1942 to 1986
Family member, Paris and Boulogne, France, by inheritance from Henri Vever, Paris and Noyers, France. [4]

From 1986
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, purchased from a family member, Paris and Boulogne, France. [5]


[1] The object was in the collection of Moussa (M.J.M) until 1922 when it was published in the auction catalogue, Objets d'art anciens de la Perse, May 5-6, 1922. See Susan Nemazee, "Appendix 7: Chart of Recent Provenance" in An Annotated and Illustrated Checklist of the Vever Collection, Glenn D. Lowry et al (Washington, DC: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1988), p. 404.

[2] See note 1.

[3] See note 1.

[4] See the Agreement for the Purchase and Sale of the Henri Vever Collection of January 9, 1986, Collections Management Office.

[5] See note 4.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Hotel Drouot
Henri Vever 1854-1942
Francois Mautin 1907-2003


While Majnun embodies extreme love, Yusuf, the biblical prophet Joseph, who also appears in the Qur'an, personifies purity of soul and physical beauty. In Jami's celebrated poem devoted to the romance, Yusuf repeatedly spurns the advances of the beautiful Zulaykha, Potiphar's wife. His unswerving spiritual devotion and moral strength are considered ideal qualities in both the lover and the mystic.

The scene represents one of Zulaykha's many ruses to seduce Yusuf. After repeatedly failing to win Yusuf's heart, Zulaykha invites him to a garden along with one hundred women, hoping he will fall in love with one of the beauties. Then she would change places with the favored one and finally win the object of her desire.  In this sixteenth-century painting, Yusuf is portrayed with a flaming halo--a sign of his sanctity. Clearly overwhelmed by his grace and beauty, two women in the foreground have already fainted, while the rest are in various states of excitement. As Zulaykha watches from behind the hilltop, Yusuf is preaching to the women about the wisdom of God--the one and true Beloved.

Published References
  • Ladan Akbarnia, Francesca Leoni. The Light of the Sufis: The Mystical Arts of Islam. Exh. cat. London and New Haven. cat. 29, pp. 80-81.
  • Glenn D. Lowry, Milo Cleveland Beach, Elisabeth West FitzHugh, Susan Nemanzee, Janet Snyder. An Annotated and Illustrated Checklist of the Vever Collection. Washington and Seattle. cat. 190, pp. 160-161.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.