Finely illuminated narrative

[Yusuf and Zulaikha]. Yusuf ve-Zulaikha.

Central Asia, [ca. 1780 / 18th century].

4to (170 x 266 mm). Persian and Chagatay Turkish manuscript on polished laid paper. 158 ff. 14 lines of black Naskhi script, set in two columns within gilt borders and black, blue, and red rules; chapter headings in red ink. Prettily illustrated throughout with 28 coloured gouaches (of which 11 are half- to full-page-sized). Margins decorated with gilt scrollwork. Near-contemporary full brown binding with blind-tooled borders and medallion stamps to both covers.


Highly rare, charmingly illustrated 18th century manuscript of the story of Yusuf and Zulaikha, which forms the medieval Islamic version of the narrative of the prophet Yusuf and Potiphar's wife. In the Muslim world for centuries, it is found in many languages such as Arabic, Persian, Bengali, Turkish and Urdu, but was given its best-known expression in Persian, by Jami, in the 15th century.

Edges brittle with some tears and chipping, quite extensive remarginings (no loss to text, but obscuring some of the gilt scrollwork borders), occasional light waterstaining. Ownership seals and stamps of Ya Cabbar and Habib Allah.