Home > Collections > Arts of the Islamic World
Beaker
late 12th century

Saljuq period

Stone-paste painted under glaze
H: 12.0 W: 11.2 D: 11.2 cm
Kashan, Iran

Purchase F1928.2

Enlarge this image | Purchase this image

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.