Literary Reflections

Miniature Painting Illustrating "Conference of the Birds"

About This Resource

A key scene in a Persian epic poem is illustrated in a 400-year-old watercolor from the holdings of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This miniature illustrates the manuscript Mantiq al-Tayr (The Language of the Birds, also known as The Conference of the Birds), by Farid al-Din ‘Attar. This opaque watercolor, painted on paper in silver, gold, and green, dates to approximately 1600 CE, and was created during the Safavid dynasty (1501–1722 CE) in Isfahan, Persia (Iran). In this image, one of the birds, the hoopoe, gives a speech to the other birds proposing that they journey to find their perfect king, the Simurgh. The hoopoe is the small, tufted bird in the middle right of the painting. A rock in the painting next to the stream is inscribed with the signature of the Safavid-era painter, Habiballah. The Conference of the Birds (edited and translated by Afkham Darbandi and Dick Davis) is one of the titles on the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf.


"The Conference of the Birds: Page from a Manuscript of the Mantiq al-Tayr (The Language of the Birds) of Farid al-Din ’Attar [Iran (Isfahan)] (63.210.11)," Metropolitan Museum of Art (Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History). Available at

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"Muslim Journeys | Item #150: Miniature Painting Illustrating "Conference of the Birds"", June 20, 2024


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