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profile: Beaker


Historical period(s)
Saljuq period, late 12th century
Stone-paste painted under glaze and over glaze with enamel (mina'i)
Mina'i ware
H x W x D: 12 x 11.2 x 11.2 cm (4 3/4 x 4 7/16 x 4 7/16 in)
Iran, Kashan
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
This celebrated beaker is the only known object from the Islamic world that is illustrated with a complete narrative cycle from the Shahnama, the Persian Book of Kings. Organized in horizontal bands, the small but highly detailed images recount the adventures of Bizhan and Manizha, beginning with Firdawsi's beloved telling the story. The climax in the narrative appears in the lower register and depicts Rustam rescuing Bizhan from the pit where he has been imprisoned by the Turanian king Afrasiyab, Manizha's evil father. This pictorial cycle predates any other depictions of the Bizhan and Manizha romance by some one hundred years.

It is interesting to note that the adventures of the two lovers appear on a drinking cup, a vessel of particular ritual significance in royal banquets during the ancient and Islamic periods.

Parish-Watson Company, New York 1928 [1]

From 1928
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Parish-Watson Company, New York in 1928 [2]


[1] Object file, undated folder sheet note. Also see Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List file, Collections Management Office.

[2] See note 1.

Former owner
Parish-Watson Company
On View Location
Currently not on view
Ceramic, Vessel
Afrasiyab, Bijan, Gurgin, Iran, Manija, Mina'i ware, Rustam, Saljuq period (1037 - 1300), Shahnama
Collection(s) Area
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resource(s)
Google Cultural Institute

Rights Statement
Copyright with museum

As renovation work continues in the Freer Gallery, the Sackler Gallery also will close on July 10, 2017. This museum-wide closure will allow us to completely reinstall our exhibitions and revitalize features to improve your visit. Both spaces will reopen on October 14, 2017, when we will welcome the public back to the Freer|Sackler: two galleries, one destination. For your safety, all visitors will have their bags checked. See the complete list of restricted items and bag sizes.