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Yusuf tempted by Zulaykha

Yusuf tempted by Zulaykha

Leaf from a disbound manuscript of Jami, Haft Aurang (Seven thrones), copied c 1570

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, MS Elliott 149, fol 199v

Zulaykha sets out to seduce Yusuf by numerous means, including building a palace decorated with wall paintings of the two of them in amorous poses, thereby hoping to lead him into temptation. This became a favourite subject for book illustrators, who made use of the imagined architectural detail of gilded interiors to convey the private space of Yusuf’s inner temptation.

Here they are shown in the pose of lover and beloved, seated on a raised couch on a silken carpet. Above, the painter has included the incident that follows, in which Zulaykha reaches out to prevent Yusuf leaving, tearing his brocaded robe as he flees.