Frontispiece of Volume 20 from a copy of Abu'l-Faraj al-Isfahani's Ketāb al-aḡānī
(Book of Songs) Iraq, Mosul; 610H/1219AD

The Book of Songs is an anthology of early Arabic poetry that not only has literary value, but is also important from a cultural historical point of view. This copy originally consisted of 20 volumes and was made by Muhammad ibn Abi Talib al-Badri, probably for the ruler of Mosul, Badr al-Din Lulu, whose name can be found on the horseman's tiraz band.

The painting is among the oldest preserved from the Islamic world, and even though the human figures are the Turkish-Mongol type found in Persian art, there are also clear elements with Antique, Christian, and local Arabic origins. An example is the use of hovering genii, familiar from Antiquity. Similar motifs are found in contemporary figurative coins.

A larger image of the Frontispiece of Volume 20 from a copy of Abu'l-Faraj al-Isfahani's Kitab al-Aghani (Book of Songs), 1219AD.

Miniature from volume 20 of a copy of Abuíl-Faraj al-Isfahaniís Kitab al-Aghani
Iraq, Mosul; 616 H = 1219
28.5 ◊ 21.5 cm
Permanent loan from the Royal Library.
Inv. no. D 1/1990
Source: David Collection, Copenhagen, Denmark

Back to Kitab al-Aghani (Book of Songs)