June 30, 1759
Shah Alam II 1759–1806



Court Lady Pouring Wine (recto); Calligraphy of Lyrical Quatrains (verso)
c. 1760; borders mid-1700s

Part of a set. See all set records

Mughal India, probably Lucknow
Gum tempera, ink, and gold on paper

Page: 30.6 x 25 cm (12 1/16 x 9 13/16 in.)

Gift in honor of Madeline Neves Clapp; Gift of Mrs. Henry White Cannon by exchange; Bequest of Louise T. Cooper; Leonard C. Hanna Jr. Fund; From the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection 2013.348


The bird-headed decanter evokes blood rites of kingship in pre-Islamic Iran.


The artist has depicted a glass or crystal duck-headed decanter adorned with a gilded grapevine motif, signaling the contents. The red wine flows from the duck’s mouth into a tiny cup. Such bird-shaped wine vessels are vestiges of the blood sacrifices once part of ancient Persian court rituals. On the verso, floral sprigs illuminate the central calligraphic work, and paired verses have been written in smaller script all around the border. On this page, all the verses are about the beauty of—and longing for—the beloved.


verso: Persian verses in nasta‘liq script. Whoever set eyes on the Opening Verses of your face recited “Say He is the Only God” and breathed it out in pure sincerity. “God has made her grow in purity and beauty,” So recited and passed by Khizr, the moment he saw the green [pubescent] sprouting around your lips.


verso: Persian verses in top horizontal border, right to left, in nasta‘liq script. My heart became shackled to her tresses; You have lost your head in fulfilling this desire. Go and become entangled in her tresses. If you see her mouth, do not say a word.

verso: Persian verses in bottom horizontal border, right to left, in nasta‘liq script. If she asks you what you desire, say “your heart.” Since once she knows it, one could never banish her from one’s heart. For one cannot assure one’s heart based on her words of promise; It is not fitting that one should lose one’s heart for naught.


verso: Persian verses in right vertical border, top to bottom, in nasta‘liq script. From the anguished mood and state of this sorrowful heart, Narrate down the story as you brush down her tresses [conjectural] Of me, in an unfit state, shackled and in chains How I fare in that stifling prison. If you go and seek her out in that abode Once you find her, you should say of me, the heartbroken.


verso: Persian verses in left vertical border, bottom to top, in nasta‘liq script. I have a heart ensnared by her tresses Exiled in foreign lands [. . .] of her tresses The tale of this broken-hearted soul, like disheveled hair Bring to her ears in a well-composed manner, like well-arranged hair Enchain her tresses in your speech Brush her locks behind her for a while.


Sir Charles Forbes, 7th Baronet [1773-1849], Bengal, London, and Scotland, by descent to his great-grandson, Colonel Sir John Forbes

Colonel Sir John Stewart Forbes [1901-1984], Baronet, DSO, DL, Allargue House, Strathdon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, UK, consigned to Sotheby's London for sale

December 10, 1962
(Sotheby's, London, Western and Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures, lot 21)

Ralph Benkaim [1914-2001], Beverly Hills, CA, by descent to his wife Catherine Benkaim

(Catherine Glynn Benkaim [b. 1946], Beverly Hills, CA, sold to the Cleveland Museum of Art)

The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH


Sotheby's, London. Western and Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures. December 10, 1962. Mentioned: Lot 21
Krishnan, Gauri Parimoo. Beauty in Asia: 200 BCE to Today. Singapore: Asian Civilisations Museum, 2007. Reproduced: no. 31a

Mace, Sonya Rhie, Mohsen Ashtiany, Catherine Glynn, Pedro Moura Carvalho, Marcus Fraser, and Ruby Lal. Mughal Paintings: Art and Stories: the Cleveland Museum of Art. London: D Giles Limited, 2016 Reproduced: cat. no. 85, p. 258


Beauty in Asia. Asian Civilizations Museum, Singapore (May 3-September 23, 2007).

Art and Stories from Mughal India. The Cleveland Museum of Art (organizer) (July 31-October 23, 2016).

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Mohmedd shareef

Thank You for Suggestion and replaced image with proper one.

Mirza Firuz