THE MEETING OF KHOSROW AND MIQDAD IN A MOUNTAINOUS LANDSCAPE (AN EPSIODE FROM THE STORY OF MIQDAD BIN ASWAD): ILLUSTRATED LEAF FROM A ROYAL MANUSCRIPT OF THE SIYAR-I NABI OF MUSTAFA DHARIR MADE FOR SULTAN MURAD III, COPIED BY THE SCRIBE MUSTAFA BIN VALI, CONSTANTINOPLE, TURKEY, A.D 1594-95
In the possession of Princess Se'adetlu Bash-Rukhshah-Qadin Hadretleri in 1753
In the possession of Major R.G. Gayer-Anderson, Cairo, circa 1939
This miniature is from the celebrated copy of the "Life of the Prophet" made for the Ottoman Sultan Murad III in 1594-95. The text, copied by the scribe Mustafa bin Vali in A.H.1003/A.D.1594-95, is the Kitab Siyar-i Nabi (Life of the Prophet) of Mustafa bin Yusuf bin `Umar al-Mevlevi al-Erzerumi, known as al-Dharir (the Blind). He had been ordered by the Mamluk Sultan al-Mansur (d.1376) to translate and expand the thirteenth-century Arabic work of Abu'l-Hassan al-Bakri al-Basri. Al-Dharir's finished work was presented to al-Mansur's successor Sultan al-Salih Salah al-Din in 1388. The text recounts the life of the Prophet and the early history of the Islamic community, and expands on various picturesque and miraculous details.
Sultan Murad III's illustrated copy of Mustafa Dharir's Siyar-i Nabi was a monumental commission. In total it contained 814 miniatures in six volumes. Volumes I, II and VI remain in the library of the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, volume III is in the Spencer Collection of the New York Public Library, and volume IV is in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin. Volume V is apparently lost. By 1753 volume IV had been separated from the others and was in the private possession of one of the Ottoman princesses. It surfaced in Cairo in the 1930s at which point approximately 53 folios were detached and sold to various collectors, principally Major R.G. Gayer-Anderson (known as Gayer-Anderson Pasha). At about this time Alfred Chester Beatty acquired the remainder of volume IV, which consisted of 490 folios, 136 miniatures and the colophon.
In addition to the volumes in the Topkapi Saray Library, the New York Public Library and the Chester Beatty Library, illustrated leaves are now in the British Museum, London, the Museum für Islamische Kunst, Berlin, the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, and the David Collection, Copenhagen. Several have been sold at auction over the last thirty years. For further details see Sotheby's, London, Arts of the Islamic World, 3 May 2001, lot 54.
The present leaf is numbered 40 in the outer margin. It would have been located between folios 125 and 145 of the Chester Beatty Library volume. The subject shows the meeting of Khosrow (kisra) and Miqdad. The text records that from his one hundred thousand men, Khosrow appoints one thousand to defeat Miqdad.
Murad III's copy of the Siyar-i Nabi has been discussed and illustrated in several publications, including: Minorsky 1958, no.419; Stchoukine 1966, vol.I, pp.84-86, 130-131, 148; Tanindi 1984; Schmitz 1992, no.IV.2; Geneva 1985, no.110; Von Folsach 1990, no.57. For information on Hamza, the Uncle of the Prophet, see EI2, vol.III, pp.152-154, "Hamza bin `Abd al-Muttalib".