Skip to main content

Exhibitions

Discover our collection

Zulaykha’s maids overcome by the beauty of Yusuf

Zulaykha’s maids overcome by the beauty of Yusuf

From a manuscript of Jami, Yusuf u Zulaykha, dated AH 977 (1569 AD)

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, MS Greaves 1, fols 103v–104r

This complete manuscript is an outstanding example of the craft of book production that flourished in the 16th century in the workshops of the Safavid Persian empire, and in neighbouring Mughal India and Ottoman Turkey. The decorated binding, illumination and calligraphy are characteristic of increased production of high-quality copies of the Persian poetry classics.

The pages shown here recount what eventuates when Zulaykha invites her friends to see the beauty of Yusuf for themselves. As the women sit peeling fruit, Yusuf joins the party, carrying additional refreshments. The women faint at the sight of him, or become so distracted they accidentally cut themselves on their sharp fruit knives.