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A royal picnic

A royal picnic

From a manuscript of ʿAttar, Intikhab-i Hadiqa (Extracts from the Hadiqa), copied c 1575

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, MS Canonici Or 122, fols 4v–5r

Here a characteristic scene of royal festivity is depicted in an outdoor setting, suggesting the eternal springtime that was a favourite theme of Persian poets.

In this case, a silken pavilion is set in an open landscape, beyond the confines of architectural space. The royal figure is attended by a pair of young pages, older courtiers, poets, musicians, a groomsman and servants who chop and carry wood for the fires upon which the cooks prepare the customary feast that accompanied such an outdoor gathering.

This work by ʿAttar includes renditions of a work of his predecessor Sanaʾi (d 1131), the first to write a long narrative in rhyming couplets (masnavi).