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Manuscript/Mixed Material The fainting of Laylah and Majnun

About this Item


  • The fainting of Laylah and Majnun

Created / Published

  • 1550-1600


  • -  Calligraphy, Arabic
  • -  Calligraphy, Persian
  • -  Manuscripts, Persian--Washington (D.C.)
  • -  Iran
  • -  Arabic script calligraphy
  • -  Illuminated Islamic manuscripts
  • -  Islamic calligraphy
  • -  Islamic manuscripts
  • -  Nasta'liq


  • -  The fainting of Laylah and Majnun, from the Nizami's Khamsah, Shirazi style Safavid Persian illuminated manuscript in Nasta'liq script.
  • -  Dimensions of Painting: Recto: 12.2 (w) x 16.7 (h) cm. Dimensions of Written Surface: 12.2 (w) x 20.9 (h) cm
  • -  For an English translation of Nizami's story of Laylah and Majnun, see R. Gelpke (trans./ed.), "Nizami: The Story of Layla and Majnun" (London, 1966) and P. Chelkowski et al, "Mirror of the Invisible World: Tales from the Khamseh of Nizami" (New York, 1975): 49-65. For further illustrations of Nizami's "Khamsah", see I. Stchoukine, "Les Peintures des Manuscrits de la 'Khamseh' de Nizami au Topkapi Sarayi Muzesi d'Istanbul, Institut Francais d'Archéologie de Beyrouth", vol. 96 (Paris, 1977).
  • -  The location and time of the narrative is hinted at by the two tents dressed in the middleground and the dark nighttime sky in the background. The composition's style and hues are typical of paintings made in the city of Shiraz during the second half of the 16th century. Many manuscripts at this time were produced for the domestic market and international export, rather than by royal commission.
  • -  The verso of this folio describes the painting on the recto. This particular painting appears to have been executed at the same time as the text of the "Khamsah" proper, which survives on the painting's verso (1-86-154.123 R). Eight other folios from the same manuscript -- mostly initial and terminal folios of the various books (kitab) from the "Khamsah" -- are held in the Library of Congress as well. These bear the same nasta'liq script at 20 lines in 4 columns/page within a similar written surface size of c. 12 (w) x 21 (h) cm. The folios are: 1-84-154.1a R & V, 1-85-154.1b R & V, 1-85-154.2a R & V, and 1-85-154.2b R & V.
  • -  This folio depicts a well-known passage from the tragic story of Laylah and Majnun described in the third book of Nizami's "Khamsah" (Quintet). Forcibly separated by their respective tribes' animosity, forced marriage, and years of exile into the wilderness, these two ill-fated lovers meet again for the last time before their deaths thanks to the intervention of Majnun's elderly messenger. Upon seeing each other in a palm-grove immediately outside of Laylah's camp, they faint of extreme passion and pain. The old man attempts to revive the lovers, while the wild animals protective of Majnun ("The King of Wilderness") attack unwanted intruders.
  • -  Script: nasta'liq
  • -  1-86-154.123


  • 1 volume ; 14.1 (w) x 23.1 (h) cm


  • Library of Congress African and Middle Eastern Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Digital Id

Library of Congress Control Number

  • 2019714499

Online Format

  • pdf
  • image

Additional Metadata Formats

IIIF Presentation Manifest

Rights & Access

The contents of the Library of Congress Selections of Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Calligraphy are in the public domain or have no known copyright restrictions and are free to use and reuse.

Credit Line: Library of Congress, African and Middle East Division, Near East Section Persian Manuscript Collection

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

The fainting of Laylah and Majnun. to 1600, 1550. Manuscript/Mixed Material.

APA citation style:

(1550) The fainting of Laylah and Majnun. to 1600. [Manuscript/Mixed Material] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

The fainting of Laylah and Majnun. to 1600, 1550. Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.