Now open | Of Love and Madness: The Literary History of Layla and Majnun

Exhibit poster for Of Love and Madness: The Literary History of Layla and Majnun


Don't miss "Of Love and Madness: The Literary History of Layla and Majnun," on display October 7th - February 22nd on the 7th floor of Hatcher! 

The exhibit offers a glimpse into the literary history of Layla and Majnun, a romance of Arabian origins that exists in many poetic versions. Celebrating the popular Persian and Turkish renderings of the tale, the display features a modest yet striking selection from the library’s collections, centered on illuminated manuscripts from the Islamic Manuscripts Collection.

Opening of Laylī va Majnūn in Niẓāmī’s Khamsah from Isl. Ms. 287 (copied 1824)
Illuminated double-page opening of Laylī va Majnūn in Niẓāmī’s Khamsah (Isl. Ms. 287, copied 1824)

Manuscripts on display include

  • a richly illuminated copy of Niẓāmī's (d.1209?) exemplary Persian version of the romance within his Khamsah (Isl. Ms. 287)
  • several illuminated copies of Jāmī's (d.1492) Persian version within his Haft Awrang (Isl. Mss. 325, 326, 327)
  • an exquisite Timurid illuminated copy of MīrʻAlī Shīr Navāʼī's (d.1501) Chagatai Turkic version within his own Khamsah (Isl. Ms. 450)
  • an illuminated and illustrated copy of Fuzulî’s (d.1556) renowned Turkish rendering (Isl. Ms. 417)
Illustration of Layla and Majnun from a late 16th century manuscript copy of Fuzuli's version of the romance
Illustration of Laylá visiting Majnūn in the wilderness from
Isl. Ms. 417, a late 16th century copy of Fuzulî's version of the romance.

The exhibit also features items celebrating another of the famous romantic couples appearing in Islamic literature, Vāmiq and ʻAẕrā (“the Lover and the Virgin”). These include a papyrus fragment (P.Mich.Inv. 3402) with a portion of the Greek novel Metiochos and Parthenope upon which an early Persian version of Vāmiq and ʻAẕrā seems to have been based, and an illustrated manuscript copy of a 19th century version of the romance by the Persian poet Mīrzā Ibrāhīm Ẓahīr Kirmānī (Isl. Ms. 1043).

The exhibit is offered in conjunction with the UMS performances of Layla and Majnun (13th-15th October, 7.30 / 8 pm, Power Center) and with the Islamic Studies Program panel event Layla and Majnun: From the page to the stage(14th October, 4.30-6 pm, Hatcher Graduate Library). 

Don't miss it!