Lovers and beloveds: A composite of scenes from Persian, Urdu, and Sanskrit Literature

The figure of Joseph, identified by his halo, sits in the center near the top of this painting of heroes and heroines of ten different Persian, Urdu, and Sanskrit romances. The depicted scene occurs after Joseph has been purchased by Zulaykha in Egypt. Zulaykha, wishing to show him off to her friends and acquaintances, invites them to her home where she supplies oranges and knives. When the women see Joseph, they all are so distracted by his divine beauty that they accidentally cut their hands while peeling their oranges, but remain mesmerized by his appearance.

The dramatic scene in the center is from the Persian romance of Khusrau and Shirin, in which Farhad, a stonecutter who loved Shirin, threw himself to his death from a mountaintop after hearing news of Shirin’s death, falsely sent to him from his rival Khusrau. The emaciated Majnun is in the lower right corner. Every vignette has been identified with a tiny Persian inscription.

Opaque watercolor with gold on paper


Creator : 

Chitarman II (1680–1750)

Collection : 

Cleveland Museum of Art

Date :


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