Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day!

To celebrate, here is a painting by the Mughal painter Govardhan from  around 1645 illustrating the introduction to the Gulistān of Abū Muammad Musli ad-Dīn bin Abdullāh Shīrāzī 'Sa'dī' (1210-1291/1292). In this section of Sa'dī's famous collection of entertaining and didactic tales, written in 1258, the author recounts how he spent a night at a garden retreat outside of town with a companion. In the morning, the latter collected flowers in his shirt tails to take home as a souvenir; seeing this, Sa'dī told him that he would instead create a literary garden for him which unlike the real flowers would never fade. Hence the Gulistān or "Rose Garden", a text that, besides its enduring popularity in general, would serve as a primer for generations of students across the Persianate world and was translated into Western languages like French, German, and Latin as early as the 17th century.

Sa'dī and His "Friend" in the Garden, by Govardhan, Mughal India, c. 1645
Source: Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

On another timely note, Sa'dī's Gulistān is also famous for the following wise verses:
 بنی آدم اعضای یک پیکرند
که در آفرينش ز یک گوهرند
چو عضوى به درد آورد روزگار
دگر عضوها را نماند قرار
تو کز محنت دیگران بی غمی
نشاید که نامت نهند آدمی
Banī Ādam a'żā-yi yik paikarand
Kih dar āfrīnash zi yik gauharand
Chū 'ażū-yi bih dard āvarad rūzgār
Digar 'ażūhā rā namānad qarār
Tū kizi minat-i dīgarān bī ghamī
Nashāyad kih nāmat nihad ādamī

The children of Adam are members of one whole
Who in their creation are of one essence
When fate causes one member pain
The other members cannot remain at ease
If you have no compassion for the suffering of others
You shall not call yourself a human being

1 comment:

Thanks for stopping by!