An ocean on the shores of which pearls are sown


An ocean on the shores of which pearls are sown

The poem Tuhfat al-ahrar (“The Gift to Noble”) was composed in 1481 by Jami as an imitation of the Makhzan al-asrar of Nizami and of the Matla‘ al-anvar written later by Amir Khusraw Dihlavi.

An ocean on the shores of which pearls are sown

It is a collection of anecdotes composed for a moral purpose and with a certain mystical colouring. Jami was a naqshbandi sufi, anxious to spread the teachings of his sufi brotherhood. The text had great success throughout Central Asia, which adhered to Hanafi Sunnism.

The inserting of original pages in margins of a thicker coloured paper with gold sprinkling was certainly made in Bukhara as also was the actual binding. On the other hand, it is possible that the exquisite illuminated decor was made in Herat around 1500. Amongst them are the title panels of the chapters and the rich gilded decoration of the opening pages.

In the four panels of the opening page we can read these verses: “one can say about this Tuhfat showing the garden of eternal paradise that, because of the illumination of his writing that sows the musk, it is a box in which someone generously placed gems or an ocean on the shores of which pearls are sown” by the hand of the gilder.

You can learn more about the topic in the book-album "Illustrated manuscripts from Mawarannahr in the collections of France" (Volume XXIX) in the series "The Cultural Legacy of Uzbekistan".

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