Binding of a Divan of Nava’i

Location: probably Herat

Materials: papier-mâché boards and flap, painted and varnished; leather doublures

Dimensions: 24.1 x 15.8cm (boards, each); 24.1 x 8.4cm (flap)

Accession Number: MSS 948

Other Notes:

This binding is attached to a copy of the Divan of Nava’i that was produced in Herat in the mid-16th century, and it appears to be contemporary with the manuscript.

The outer covers are decorated with fantastic landscapes populated by a variety of Sino-Islamic beasts. These include ducks flying in a cloud-streaked sky, fish swimming in pools, phoenixes (or simurghs), tigers attacking deer, qilins, jackals, and a dragon in combat with a phoenix. All the motifs were finely executed and outlined in gold on a dark-maroon ground, within narrow frames of floral scrollwork.

The doublures are of reddish-brown leather and have lobed medallions, pendants and corner-pieces of gilt leather filigree on blue and green grounds.


N.D. Khalili, B.W. Robinson & T. Stanley, Lacquer of the Islamic Lands, The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, volume XXII, Part One, London 1996, cat.5, pp.26–7.