In the Qur'an & Bible, Zulaykha/Potiphar's wife never gets to consummate her love for Yusuf/Joseph, but in Jami's C15th version, there is a happier ending and they marry - here's a depiction of that moment in a manuscript from C16th Shiraz. (Now in British Library.) 1/5...
The technicality which permits this is that, according to Jami, Zulaykha's first husband (aka Potiphar) wasn't able to consummate their marriage:
'He will not be able to open your silver lock,
for his key will be as soft as wax...
And lead cannot do the work of a diamond.' 2/5
By contrast, Yusuf, after their marriage:
'had a key for her jewellery box made of shining ruby,
and he opened the lock, pouring more jewels inside'.
While Jami certainly gives vivid descriptions of the consummation of Zulaykha's carnal desire, there is more to this... 3/5
Jami, of course, has higher thoughts in mind, & throughout the tale he positions Yusuf as a representation of divine beauty, & ultimately as a symbol of the divine. So, this ending is about more than physical desire - it also represents spiritual love & union with the divine. 4/5
I'm reading Yusuf and Zulaykha with my students over the next few weeks, so I might do another thread to expand more on the text, perhaps the specific bit we're covering, which I love - the description of the palace which Zulaykha builds to attract Yusuf. End!
Just to add - there is loads to unpack here, I barely scratch the surface, but something I want to highlight is that, for me, the great humanity in Jami's tale, people's flaws and sexual desires, serves to give grounding to the text's more profound meanings. Extra reading here:
One last thing! There is also lots to say here about how the various versions of the story deal with female sexuality and vice. In Jami's version, Zulaykha sees some sort of vindication, whereas in others she is little more than a foil for male virtue.

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More from @FuchsiaHart

3 Aug
In class today, I was teaching the inscription on the Ardabil Carpet - it is this text which makes it the earliest dated carpet to survive. Seeing as there should be way more carpet content on Twitter, I thought I'd share it here too! (1/7) #carpetcontent
The first two lines are a couplet by Hafez:
جز آستان توام در جهان پناهی نیست
سر مرا بجز این در حواله گاه نیست
Except for your threshold, I have no refuge in the world.
Except for this door, my head has no resting-place. (2/7)
The next line gives a signature:
عمل بنده درگاه مقصود کاشانی
The work of the servant of the court, Maqsud-i Kashani (3/7)
Read 9 tweets
28 Jul
Today, I've been writing a bit on Sultan Murad Mirza Husam al-Saltana (1817-1883), a governor of Khurasan. There's a wonderful portrait of him, so I thought I'd do a thread on some of the notable features of the painting to bring some Qajar style to your timeline this evening...
The artist is Abu'l-Hasan Ghaffari (1814-66), 'naqqashbashi' (head-painter) at Nasir al-Din Shah's court. He painted some of the most iconic works of the era. You might be thinking it all looks a bit staged - this is because he often painted from photos, rather than from life.
Husam al-Saltana was grandson of Fath ʿAli Shah. His father was ʿAbbas Mirza, Fath ʿAli's son & heir who predeceased him. Husam al-Saltana was a prominent figure at court during the reign of Nasir al-Din Shah - here he is wearing the Order of the Royal Image (timsal-i humayuni).
Read 5 tweets
20 Apr
#Ramadan2020 is on the way, but I've recently been reading a bit about Ramadan in the early-19th century in Iran. I think most non-Muslims probably associate Ramadan with not eating, but what about not smoking your shisha (qaliyan) or opium pipe?
The shisha pipe was pretty much a permanent fixture of life in early Qajar Iran. It was smoked everywhere and at anytime - from when in the mosque, to while on horseback. Fath-ʿAli Shah is often depicted with his pipe at his side.
As a small aside - there was a particularly beautiful type of qaliyan made in Shiraz at the time, which had small metal, enamelled flowers pressed into the inside of the 'vase' of the pipe using long pincers when the glass was still soft.
Read 10 tweets
19 Mar
It's #Nowruz tomorrow, and as many won't be able to celebrate as normal, I thought I'd use a thread to take us all back to Nowruz Fath-ʿAli Shah style (this related by George Fowler in his 1841 'Three Years in Persia').
As you can imagine, there was lots of ceremony, and it would be a v v long thread if I mentioned it all, so this will just be some highlights. But, first, a quick note on the timing of the festival, which Fowler clearly appreciates:
He goes on: 'The Shah's splendour on these grand occasions has been described to me as perhaps the most gorgeous display in the world. The immense riches of the crown jewels would buy a kingdom... he seems made up of diamonds, pearls, and all the sparkling stones in the world.'
Read 7 tweets
3 Mar
We're seeing lots of reports regarding continued pilgrimage to #Qom, despite the #coronavirus outbreak there. It's horrible to watch Iran go through yet another crisis, but I also can't help but think about the historical parallels.
Pilgrimage & contagious diseases have history, and many of the 19th century sources I use in my research on these shrines mention disease, so here is a (brief) long view on pilgrimage in the time of #Corvid19
The most common disease in 19th-c. Iran was cholera, but there were also plague outbreaks, the worst being 1830-31. Of course, plague largely spread through movement of people, and pilgrims inadvertently took disease to the shrine cities, such as Qom and Mashhad, with them.
Read 11 tweets

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