Poetry and Prayer: Islamic Manuscripts from the Walters Art Museum

Poetry and Prayer

Islamic Manuscripts from the Walters Art Museum

Poetry Ritual Prayer Recitation Calligraphy Personal Piety Digital Books


Illustrated Page from the Gulistan of Sa‘di

Illustrated Page from the Gulistan of Sa‘di

Mughal, early 17th century

Money cannot rest in the hands of the free, neither can patience in a lover’s heart nor water in a sieve.
—The Gulistan of Sa‘di of Shiraz, 1:13
(Translated by W. Thackston)

The Gulistan (The Rose Garden) of Sa‘di of Shiraz (d. 1292) is a source of proverbs in Persian, much like Shakespeare’s work is in the English language, and it has inspired such American poets and philosophers as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. The Gulistan contains anecdotes that offer practical, moral, and philosophical wisdom. This page comprises two illustrations from the opening chapter entitled “The Conduct of Kings.” The lower register depicts a king who had given a large sum of money to a beggar who squandered it and then returned for more. At first, the king refused the beggar additional money, but his minister advised him to allot the poor man an allowance in installments so that he would not squander it. This anecdote is meant to illustrate that one should not render someone hopeful by an act of unbounded kindness and then dash his or her hopes.

Paper with ink, paint, and gold
W.668, fol. 49a, acquired by Henry Walters