The Persian poet and mystic Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi (1207-1273), better known as Rumi, endures as one of history’s most beloved and oft-quoted thinkers. A handful of Persian accounts of Rumi’s life have been written, most famously:
- the 1-st by his son and
- the 3-rd, focusing on Rumi’s moralizing miracle stories, ordered by Rumi’s grandson and written by the dervish Shams al-Din Ahmad, called Aflaki (d. 1360).
In 1590, some 3.5 centuries after Aflaki’s writings, the Ottoman sultan Murad III ordered a Turkish translation of a 1540 abridged version of Aflaki’s text entitled "Tarjuma-i Thawaqib-i manaqib / Stars of the Legend".
Two illustrated copies of the Murad translation survive:
1. dated 1599, is held by Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace and features 22 miniatures;
2. a more lavish manuscript dating to the 1590s and including 29 miniatures, is held by New York’s Morgan Library (Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1911).
From The Morgan Library’s collection of Islamic manuscript paintings comes this remarkable glimpse of the rare manuscript, which captures the illustrated “life and miracles”" of Rumi with equal parts visual poetry and deep respect.
The Seljuk Sultan's Courtier Disturbs Rūmī's Visit to his Father's Grave
While meditating near his father's tomb, Rūmī is disturbed when the sultan's courtier, Valad-i Fakhr al-Dīn Shādid, in princely attire, rides his black horse through the cemetery. Rūmī strongly reproves the rider, who then loses control of his horse, falls to the ground, and is injured. Rūmī, with a gray beard, is at the upper right, surrounded by students. Two men with guns guard the entrance to the walled city in the background. The cemetery itself is located outside the city walls, as was the custom.
Rūmī Leaves the ḤalĀwiyya Madrasa at Aleppo at Midnight Followed by his Teacher KamĀl Al-Din Ibn Cadīm, Ruler of Aleppo
According to the accompanying text, some were jealous of the privilege Rūmī enjoyed at the school, complaining to the ruler of Aleppo that he often left his cell at midnight for some unknown, possibly immoral, purpose. One night, after the gates miraculously open, as shown here, the teacher decides to follow Rūmī, urging the gatekeeper not to alert him. He tracked him to the Khalīl al-Raḥman (Abraham) Mosque in Hebron, 350 miles away, where he saw Rūmī greeted by angels in green raiment. According to Aflākī (the author of the text from which this translation derives), it was the site of the tomb of Abraham, the spot where Nimrod threw Abraham into the fire. The teacher became disoriented, was discovered near death, recovered, and became a disciple of Rūmī.
Religious Dispute Between Rūmī and the Qadi Siraj Al-Dīn Ormavī
The discussion takes place in a Sufi madrasa, to judge by the old doorkeeper at the left, who wears the Mevlevī hat and leans on the traditional long staff. Rūmī, in a gold-patterned blue robe, faces the qadi (a judge of Islamic law), in a brown robe. The judge had rejected a certain fatwa (legal opinion) by Rūmī, but when the latter provided an exact textual reference, the judge fainted, later quoted it, and became a follower. In the foreground, a seated youth pulls the beard of the older man seated next to him.
A Young Merchant and Rūmī Follower Cures the Gravely Ill Frankish King in Eqypt
According to the story, the young merchant went to Egypt against the advice of Rūmī, where he was captured and imprisoned by the crusaders. Though a prisoner, he was able, with Rūmī's intercession, to heal the ailing leader of the Franks. Thereafter the merchant was freed and the entire Frankish household was converted to Islam. In the miniature the ailing Frank takes the cup offered by the physician. The king is surrounded by his household, including the woman peeking at the consultation from behind the curtained doorway. In the foreground are various containers and a conical loaf of sugar.
A Water Monster Begs Rūmī's Wife to Intercede for Him
On their way to the bath of Ilghin, outside Konya, Rūmī and his party camp by a river inhabited by Su Essā /"the lord of the water." Every year the monster drowns a person or animal from the neighboring community. After Rūmī jumped in the river to meet him, Su Essā wanted to change his ways. Not considering it proper to present himself to Rūmī, he asked Kerā Khātūn, Rūmī's second wife, to intercede on his behalf. The strategy worked: Rūmī forgave the monster, who then brought precious pearls to his wife.
Here Rūmī's wife, regarded as a second Virgin Mary on account of her purity, modestly hides her face as her husband approaches. The lake is teeming with life; the artist indicated the far side of the lake by drawing the landscape upside down.
Dogs in a Market Listen to Rūmī, Who Praises their Understanding and Attention
Several dogs in the foreground listen to a speech by Rūmī, who, pointing to the dogs, addresses a crowd in a courtyard. While dogs were generally not highly esteemed, Rūmī praises their understanding and attention, calling them "relatives of the dog of the 7 Sleepers" and reciting a distich (two-line verse) about love and paradise. Unlike the Christian story of the "Seven Sleepers of Ephesus," who were walled up in a cave, the version in the Quran (sura 18: 9–6) includes a faithful dog that kept watch at the entrance while the youths slept. Seeking refuge from persecution by Decius, 7 Christian youths hid in a cave, where they fell asleep. The emperor then sealed the cave. When it was opened several centuries later, the youths awoke, thinking only a night had passed.
Mystical Scene with Shams Al-Dīn Tabrīzī and the Reflection of Sun in a Pool
Shams of Tabriz was a wandering Sufi mystic and Rūmī's spiritual instructor. Their encounter and friendship provided a transforming experience that forever changed Rūmī's life. His disappearance led to Rūmī's Dīvān, written in his memory: The face of Shams al-Dīn, Tabriz's glory, is the sun, in whose track the cloud-like hearts are moving.
Shams means "Sun," and he was certainly Rūmī's sun. Here, Shams, in a brown cloak, sees the reflection of the sun in the center of a small pool, while Rūmī points to the upside-down face of the sun itself. For Shams, the pool is a symbol of paradise. The entwining cypress and blossoming fruit tree is a metaphor for the love between Rūmī and Shams.
Rūmī Spends a Day in the Hot Baths of a Hammam
Bathing was a traditional pastime for Sufis, and for Rūmī, in various stories and poems, the bath served as a metaphor for spiritual purification. Many scenes, therefore, were set within bathhouses. Here Rūmī sits by himself in one of the two pools set within the arched recess to cure a cold caused by "contact with the vain people". Elsewhere, and with a certain amount of humor, various bathhouse activities are depicted.
The Prophet Muhammad Reveals to Alī Secrets Revealed to Him During the Mirāj (Night Ride to Heaven)
Muhammad, his face veiled, reveals some of the secrets of creation to Alī, his cousin and son-in-law. Both have halos of golden flames, and flames surround the dome of the mosque, signifying a holy event. Ten thousand of the hundred thousand secrets were revealed to Alī alone. Having difficulty keeping them, he shouted them into a well, but a youth made a flute from the tree that grew from the reed in the well, and people came from all over to hear him play. Muhammad requested to hear the youth perform, declaring that his notes "were the interpretation of the holy mysteries he had confided to Alī" The flute was used ever since as part of the Mevlevī ritual dance (samā˓). Rūmī clearly borrowed the story of the barber, who shouted the secret of King Midas's donkey ears into a hole over which reeds grew, the winds whispering the secret to all.
An Escaped Bull Seeks Refuge at Rūmī's Feet
At the top, Rūmī, in the mausoleum of his father, Bahā al-Dīn, reads from a Quran on a wooden stand. The tomb itself is covered in red cloth. In the scene below, a butcher pursues an escaped bull that has sought refuge at the feet of Rūmī, who, along with four students, has just left his father's tomb. Since the bull asked for Rūmī's protection, he asked the butchers to set it free; they comply, and the bull was never seen again. The moral of the story is that those who follow and take refuge with men of God will escape the butchers or demons of hell.
Mūsā (Moses) Tells the Giant Uj Ibn Canāq How to Curb an Appetite
Some highly unusual scenes are depicted in the manuscript, including an encounter between Mūsā and the giant Uj (King Og of the Old Testament), whose daily appetite for bread could not be satisfied, even by the output of seventy bakers. One day, upon seeing Uj unsatisfied after eating the bread, Mūsā proposes a way for him to be satisfied by only 7 mouthfuls. He suggests that before eating, Uj should wash his hands and recite the bismillah (In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate) and then take the bowl. But Uj is unable to consume even 7 mouthfuls. Mūsā then says, "Know that satiety comes from God. Bread is just a pretext"
The Funeral of Jalāl Al-Dīn Rūmī
Rūmī's body, in a white shroud patterned with red and gold medallions and tiny flowers, has been strapped to a bier for transport to the cemetery. His turban and Mevlevī hat are also on the bier. The procession is about to begin, complete with standard-bearers, a portable incense burner, and book boxes containing Qurans. According to the accompanying text, Rūmī was so revered that the mourners were of all creeds and nations, including Jews and Christians, who explained that from him they had learned more about their own scriptures, finding in him the "signs of and qualities of a prophet and a saint"
The original posting was made at http://hojja-nusreddin.dreamwidth.org/124617.html