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Arts of Asia

The MFAH collections of art from China, India, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia reflect Houston’s diverse communities. Ancient and contemporary works are displayed together to create innovative juxtapositions.


Istanbul, Turkey
Scene of Feasting
c. 1594
Gouache with gold

11 11/16 x 7 1/8 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of His Highness the Aga Khan, Shia Ismaili Community of Houston; the Levant Foundation; Mr. and Mrs. Akbar Ladjevardian; the Francis L. Lederer Foundation; Marathon Oil Company; Mr. and Mrs. Omar Rehmatulla; Strategic Real Estate Advisors, London; Monsour Taghdisi; His Excellency Sheikh Sultan bin Suhaim Al Thani; and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, with additional funds provided by the 2007 Arts of the Islamic World Gala

Arts of Asia

The Siyer-i Nebi (Life of the Prophet), the manuscript to which this folio originally belonged, is a religious epic narrating the genealogy, life, and death of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. First composed in the late 14th century, by a writer named Darir, the text was later produced in a lavishly illustrated copy under the auspices of the Ottoman Sultan Murad III in the late 16th century.

The project was supervised by renowned Turkish calligrapher Lutfi Abdullah and was a major undertaking that resulted in a six-volume production accompanied by more than 800 illustrations. Volumes 1, 2, and 6 are still in the Topkapi Museum Library in Istanbul. Volumes 3 and 4 are, respectively, in the New York Public Library and the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, Ireland. The location of volume 5 remains unknown.