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Marriage of Yusuf and Zulaykha

The marriage of Yusuf and Zulaykha

From a manuscript of Jami, Yusuf u Zulaykha, dated AH 1004 (1595 AD)

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, MS Elliott 418, fol 56r

Yusuf and Zulaykha are depicted here in a beautiful and highly symbolic garden setting. Seated in the private and enclosed space of a tiled pavilion, Yusuf’s sanctity and prophethood are signalled by the flaming aureole around his head.

The graceful cypress trees and their close companions, the flowering fruit trees, symbolise the 'lover' and the 'beloved'. They are metaphorically entwined like the real-life lovers in the foreground, who gently take each other’s hands in this rendition of their mystical marriage.

The concept of the merging of twin souls also suggests entwinement with the Divine, which mystics regarded as the highest love of all and the natural progression of earthly love.