Large Coloured Military Illustrations from the Manuscript of the Romance of Varqa and Gulshah, c1250.


Warqa wa Gulshah, Varqa u Gulshah, Varka ve Glah'ta, Varqa o Golh, Le Roman de "Varqe et Golsah", Varqeh va-Golashah, Varka ile Glşah.
Scenes from the only known illustrated manuscript of the poem, the Romance of Varqa and Gulshah, by Urwa b Huzam al-'Udhri, with paintings by Abd al Mu'min al Khuwayyi.

The early thirteenth-century manuscript of Varqa and Gulshah in the Topkapi Palace Library (Hazine 841) is the unique copy of the Persian poet Ayyuqi's 11th-century romantic poem about a pair of unfortunate lovers. The manuscript - generally held to be a product of early 13th-century Seljuk Anatolia - is also the earliest surviving example of an illustrated book containing a literary Persian text. Based on a story "told by Arabs," the poem was (re-)composed by Ayyuqi in the eastern Iranian world during the Ghaznavid period. The seventy-one paintings constitute a fascinating corpus of images which indicate a particularly rich realm of artistic process and audience expectation.

For a nearly complete set of images in order see:
Varqa wa Gulshah, page 1
Varqa wa Gulshah, page 2
Varqa wa Gulshah, page 3
Varqa wa Gulshah, page 4
Varqa wa Gulshah, page 5
Varqa wa Gulshah, page 6
Varqa wa Gulshah, page 7

Click on the pictures for a larger image.
Note the occassional kite shield, fully caparisoned horse, and camel mounted drummer. Blue is sometimes used to indicate iron/steel.

Gulshah, who has been captured by Rabi, flees from his palace on horseback, disguised as a man.



Gulshah (right) disguised as a man, watches as her lover Varqa (centre) and his rival Rabi fight on horseback.



f.22/21a. Gulshah (right) disguised as a man, comes to take off her veil for the kidnapper Rabi.

Behind him is her defeated lover Varqa, wounded and bound.


f.23/22a. Gulshah kills Rabi ibn Adnan with her lance. Behind her is her defeated lover Varqa, wounded and bound.



Warriors on horseback riding out from a palace.



The army of Varqa with standard bearer and drummers.



f.39/37b. Varqa fights on horseback against a warrior of 'Adan.

Source: Werner Forman Archive. (Registration required).


The artist's name 'Abd al-Mu'min b. Muhammad al-Naqqash al-Khuyi occurs as a witness to the endowment deed of the madrasa founded by the Seljuk amir Jall al-Din Karatay in 1253-54AD at Konya. The artist's signature is fol.58v of the Warqa wa Gulshh manuscript. The nisbah al-Kliuyi shows that he was from Khuy, Azerbaijan. (Grube 1966 p .73; Melikian-Chirvani 1970 pp.79-80; Rogers 1986 p.50).
From the Topkapi Saray Museum, Istanbul, Turkey.

Other Large Coloured Illustrations from the Romance of Varqa and Gulshah
Small Coloured Illustrations from the Turkish Cultural Foundation
Seljuk Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers

Seljuk cavalry in Armies and Enemies of the Crusades 1096-1291 by Ian Heath - based on Varqa wa Gulshah
Seljuk heavy cavalry in Armies and Enemies of the Crusades 1096-1291 by Ian Heath - based on Varqa wa Gulshah
Seljuk infantrymen in Armies and Enemies of the Crusades 1096-1291 by Ian Heath - based on Varqa wa Gulshah
Moslem musicians in Armies and Enemies of the Crusades 1096-1291 by Ian Heath
Saracen standards in Armies and Enemies of the Crusades 1096-1291 by Ian Heath - based on Varqa wa Gulshah
Moslem horses in Armies and Enemies of the Crusades 1096-1291 by Ian Heath

Persia Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers
Index of Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers