Tuti-Nama

Tuti-Nama Facsimile Edition

India — 1560–1568

How a parrot keeps a young lady from committing adultery: moralizing texts and risqué miniatures from the Mughal period

  1. A wise parrot distracts the young wife of a merchant from committing adultery with entertaining stories

  2. The contents provided the opportunity of using risqué illustrations in spite of the moralizing text

  3. Such secular works were extremely popular at the court of the cosmopolitan Mughal Empire in India

Tuti-Nama

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Tuti-Nama

A rich merchant who goes on a business trip and his beautiful young wife who must wait for him at home – the merchant is understandably worried. In order to give his wife something to do in his absence, he gives her a starling and a parrot. The young woman quickly turns her head to the starling when it dutifully tries to advise her against an extramarital adventure. Recognizing the seriousness of the situation, the parrot prefers to tell her a story each of the following 52 nights. The woman is so captivated that she always postpones the meeting with her lover for another night – until the merchant finally returns. Parrots often appear as narrators in stories from Persia and India because of their ability to speak. The Tuti-Nama was particularly popular because the texts also offered the opportunity for risqué depictions in the 218 miniatures.

Tuti-Nama

This magnificently adorned manuscript was created for the Mughal Emperor Akbar (1542–1605) in his court workshop by two Persian artists: Mir Sayyid Ali (1510–72) and Abd al-Samad (active 1550–95). It contains the early -14th century Persian work Tuti-Nama or “The Book of Parrots” by Ziya' al-Din Nakhshabi, which describes how a wise parrot strives to prevent the young wife of a far-travelled merchant from committing adultery by telling her the most entertaining stories. The Tuti-Nama was extremely popular in the Mughal Empire because its contents provided the opportunity for risqué illustrations. The dangers of such a wayward life are clearly illustrated, either in unambiguous terms, or in a less obvious and codified form of highly interesting parables. This manuscript thus represents one of the important specimens of both Mughal art and literary culture.

218 Miniatures from a Fascinating, Distant World

The outstanding miniatures of this work are considered to be formative for the development of the Mughal style, which combined influences from the Indian, Persian, and Islamic artistic traditions. The extremely colorful, often gold-adorned miniatures of the book clearly show the popularity of secular literature as a form of entertainment at the court of the cosmopolitan Mughal Empire in India. Its turbulent history is as stunning as the work itself: the leaves emerged from the darkness of history in the estate of Samuel Miller Breckinridge Long (1881–1958), an American diplomat, politician, and collector of antiques. Initially acquired by a Philadelphia antique dealer in 1959, the precious work passed through the hands of the Bernard Brown Agency in Milwaukee before being sold to the Cleveland Museum of Art in 1962 where it remains today.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Tales of a Parrot
Size / Format
684 pages / 20.4 × 14.0 cm
Origin
India
Date
1560–1568
Illustrations
218 miniatures
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Tuti-Nama – Museum of Art (Cleveland, USA) Facsimile Edition
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1976
Detail Picture

Tuti-Nama

Fourth Night

This woman’s husband was a soldier who was away on duty for months at a time. His master, the king, was intrigued at his wife’s faithfulness and decided to test her by sending his two handsome cooks to visit her and attempt to lure her into adultery. She tricked them into coming to her home and getting on a bed made of weak strings, positioned over a pit into which they fell and were imprisoned until the king and her husband came to see what happened.

Tuti-Nama
Single Page

Tuti-Nama

Thirty-Fourth Night

Three young men present themselves to a merchant from Kabul, competing as suitors for the hand of his daughter, Zuhra, who is seated on the roof above. Each suitor wears a feathered cap, the man on the left in purple has a full beard, the man in white looking over his shoulder a moustache, and the clean-shaven man on the right holds a bow and arrow.

The attention to detail in the miniature is remarkable, e.g. each figure is depicted with a different skin tone to reflect the various peoples of the Mughal Empire. Intricate geometric and floral patterns cover nearly every surface. Seated within a walled garden, the figures are depicted with individual faces and expressive gestures, which are enriched by an incredible color palette and gold leaf.

Tuti-Nama
Facsimile Editions

#1 Tuti-Nama

Tuti-Nama – Museum of Art (Cleveland, USA) Facsimile Edition
Tuti-Nama – Museum of Art (Cleveland, USA) Facsimile Edition Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Binding: Leather, according to oriental pattern.
Commentary: 1 volume (224 pages) by Pramod Chandra and Sherman E. Lee
Languages: English, German

P. Chandra, Chicago. 224 pp. text and 121 plates. Preface by S. E. Lee, Cleveland. Oct., cloth with colour jacket.
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: € (under 1,000€)
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