Khusrau spying Shirin bathing thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

Khusrau spying Shirin bathing

Tile
1880-1885 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Iranians love poetry and their poets. This tile is decorated with a famous scene from the epic Iranian poem known as the Khamsah, or Five Tales of Nizami, written by the 12th century Iranian poet Nizami Ganjavi. The romance of Khusraw and Shirin; is the second of these tales, and relates the passionate courtship of the Sasanian monarch Khusraw and the Armenian Princess Shirin. The image represents the moment when Khusraw comes towards a stream and sees a beautiful girl bathing; her beauty is compared with the moon, roses and almonds.

The tales were recorded in manuscripts, many beautifully illustrated, for Iranian rulers. This scene was probably copied from a contemporary lithograph. The lithographic printing process was introduce to Iran in the 1840s, and almost immediately inexpensive copies of the great classics were produced and widely circulated. They are dressed in typical Qajar fashion of the early 19th century, of tight waisted knee length coats.In the mid-19th century, tiles were sold as individual objects for display, rather than as multi-part friezes, and many were acquired by Western tourists and visitors as souvenirs.


object details
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Fritware, relief moulded and underglaze painted in blue, turquoise, yellow, pink and black
Brief Description
Tile, moulded glazed fritware, depicting Khusrau on horseback spying Shirin bathing in a mountain stream, a well-known episode from Persian literature, probably Tehran, Iran, 1880-1885.
Physical Description
Tile, glazed moulded fritware, depicting a well-known narrative scene from Persian literature, when Prince Khusraw, mounted on a white horse, sees the Armenian princess Shirin, bathing in a stream. In this composition, both are attended by their servants.
Dimensions
  • Length: 38cm
  • Width: 50.8cm
  • Height: 44.2cm (with frame)
  • Length: 56.7cm (with frame)
  • Depth: 5.6cm (with frame)
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
Object history
Bought from Proctor and Co., 428 Oxford Street, London, for £4 12shillings. They ran an Indian Art Gallery and are recorded as having supplied Persian tiles to General Pitt Rivers in the 1890s:"We can offer these at the unusually low price of 3/6 per tile if a case of not less than 50 is ordered & we should be pleased to send the samples on approval. They would be suitable for panelling, chimnies, flower boxes, dados &c."

Summary
Iranians love poetry and their poets. This tile is decorated with a famous scene from the epic Iranian poem known as the Khamsah, or Five Tales of Nizami, written by the 12th century Iranian poet Nizami Ganjavi. The romance of Khusraw and Shirin; is the second of these tales, and relates the passionate courtship of the Sasanian monarch Khusraw and the Armenian Princess Shirin. The image represents the moment when Khusraw comes towards a stream and sees a beautiful girl bathing; her beauty is compared with the moon, roses and almonds.



The tales were recorded in manuscripts, many beautifully illustrated, for Iranian rulers. This scene was probably copied from a contemporary lithograph. The lithographic printing process was introduce to Iran in the 1840s, and almost immediately inexpensive copies of the great classics were produced and widely circulated. They are dressed in typical Qajar fashion of the early 19th century, of tight waisted knee length coats.In the mid-19th century, tiles were sold as individual objects for display, rather than as multi-part friezes, and many were acquired by Western tourists and visitors as souvenirs.

Collection
Accession Number
228-1887

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record createdJune 24, 2009
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