Binding of a copy of the Bustan of Sa‘di

papier-mâché boards, painted and varnished; with paper doublures

24.7 x 16.5cm (covers, each); 24.7 x 11cm (flap and fore-edge)

These covers are attached to a copy of the Bustan of Sa‘di that was produced in Tabriz and completed on 15 Shaban 936 (12 April 1530). However, the text is preceded by a fine doube frontispiece in the style current in Istanbul at this time, and it seems likely that the manuscript was taken there before being illuminated and bound. An all but identical binding in the Topkapı Palace Library (ms.h.983) has been attributed to Tabrizi artists working in Istanbul in the 1520s.

On the outer covers a central medallion and pendants are surrounded by very fine arabesque scrollwork on a black ground, and the central medallion contains cloud scrolls, with a flying duck in the middle. The fore-edge section of the flap bears a verse inscription, ‘O you who are desirous of merit and virtue in the world! You should know that the Bustan of Shaykh Sa‘di is better than a hundred treasures!’

The paper doublures are pale green, with medallions and pendants in gold surrounded by light floral scrollwork sketched in gold. 

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.4, pp.24–5.