This panel was compiled by the Conference Program Team from independently submitted paper proposals
Illustrated Divans of Hafiz, on the whole, present a program of illustration that is often predictable. Generally, an illustrated Divan will include three to five single-page paintings and most often these images include a courtly/festive scene, a battle or hunt, an intimate celebration or drinking scene, a more solemn interior scene (perhaps madrasa or mosque) and culminate with a symmetrical battle or polo scene. The courtly/festive scene occurs most frequently and will often appear more than once in lieu of the other image types in a single manuscript. At times these entertainment scenes will include a pair of lovers in a garden, or a single princely figure seated in an interior or a garden setting and surrounded by a variety of courtiers and other figures. Due to the predictable and frequently generic nature of these images, embedding the images with specific meanings or associating them with specific events can be difficult. Instead, the images illustrate many of the activities appropriate for members of the court, and I propose to explore the possibility that the word-image relationships serve a potentially didactic purpose and loosely parallel the tradition of mirror-for-princes literature in the Persianate context. Alternatively, these decorated Divans may operate not to instruct but rather to reflect on a patron’s knowledge of proper courtly conduct. Either way, by exploiting the visual, material and literary contents of sixteenth-century decorated Divans of Hafiz and the historical narratives of court life, I argue that the combination of word and image points to an elite culture concerned with cultivating and displaying its poetic and artistic erudition and refined behaviors.