Portrait solved: Leyli and Manjun


Hossein Valamanesh writes in relation to the previous post “Is this a portrait?”:

I can help with this particular question. It is a double portrait of very famous love story characters Leyli and Majnun. Majnun which means crazy or mad (a prince?) had fallen in love with Leyli (a princess), and gave up all worldly goods and became a hermit because Leyli did not reciprocate his love. It is said that he sat so long in meditation that all the creatures and animals became familiar with him and the birds nested in his hair! The story goes on and has been mentioned much in Persian and middle eastern poetry.

However, the writing on the top starting from the right says “Leyli Majnun”. The small word on the other side I cannot understand could mean “for” or “in honour of”, then it says “lovers and mystics”.

The image on the right is of Leyli who is sitting on a pedestal / seat and the one on the left is Majnun. I think he has been depicted in this carpet as an emaciated man not unlike emaciated Buddha images (I have seen this image in a number of paintings) and I think the weavers have thrown in a couple of tanks and guns for good measure perhaps to raise the possibility of a sale. It is a fascinating carpet.”

The relevance of the integration of folk tales – or narratives with a deep literary or artistic history – into the genre of war rugs makes for added complexity. I’m not convinced that the inclusion of the apparatus of war is solely a marketing ploy… otherwise the details of “The Story of Jahan Bahksh” would be rendered meaningless.

However my previous questions in remain: Can the figures also be seen (with intentional ambiguity perhaps) as a contemporary opposition of military and (say) buddhist figures? Or is this asking too much of the image?

And, the formal characteristics of the image… Has anyone seen a peaked frame like this? And what is the red object at upper center? And the flags…

aWar-Rugs-030 copy.jpg


This appears to be the same “peaked frame” motif or pointed mehrab? (this detail drawn from Graham’s latest contribution). Can anyone explain the origins of this form?


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