The Young Persian Reader

500 pieces jigsaw puzzle representing a young man absorbed in a book. The scenes depicted on his coat evokes the imaginary worlds created by literary works. This puzzle is an excellent gift to all the book lovers. Once assembled and framed, it will illuminate your living-room with a special taste.

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Sumptuous late 16th-century Persian manuscripts often opened with a double page evoking the joys of poetry and reading. Here, the costumes of the young poetry-lover and, facing him in the original binding, the girl holding a cup, are decorated with an assemblage of juxtaposed silhouettes, rather in the manner of the hybrid animals - elephants or horses - seen in contemporary Moghul miniatures from India.

A work by two painters

This double page sems to have been painted during the reign of Imam Quli Khan, ruler of Bukhara from 1611-42, or slightly earlier. The other half of the image is now in the Sackler Gallery, Washington D.C. The figure of the young man seated on a terrace is signed by the painter Muhammad Sharif Musavvir (his name is inscribed in the colored margins of the manuscript which the man is reading). Another work by the same painter is in the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin. The sheet's margins are executed in a spirited style by the painter Muhammad Murad Samarqandi, whose name is inscribed on a stone beside the stream. Muhammad Murad also painted the margins of the Washington sheet, and collaborated on the illustrations for the Chester Beatty manuscript. He may also have contribued to a copy of Firdawsi's Book of Kings, and a poem on Timur (Tamburlaine) dated 1628, both in Tashkent.
The young man is holding an oblong volume - a type of notebook designed to be carried inside the sleeve of a robe, and used for noting down poetry. The silhouettes decorating his garment include a number of animals, and entwined couples, symbolizing his feelings for the young princess facing him in the original binding, her head circled by a coronet. The two figures are caught in a dream-like trance, as if spell-bound. The wall of the terrace around their pavillion is heavily decorated with pairs of fighting animals (deer, dragons, qilin etc.), in contrast to the bare, tiled floor. The young man's garment is closely similar to that of another figure, in an Iranian Safavid work painted in the mid-16th century, signed by Muhammad Haravi, and now in the Freer Gallery of Art, in Washington D.C. In the latter, the robe is decorated with the silhouettes of chained prisoners. The work testifies to the existence of a recognized tradition of representations of this type. (Louvre notice)

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