ISSN: 0041-4255
e-ISSN: 2791-6472


The manuscript of the Humāyūnnāme, preserved in the Topkapı Museum (Hazine 359) is a unique manuscript in that it was executed in 1567 in Cairo for Defterdar Mustafā Pāshā by the calligrapher Mehmet b. Muhsin b. Burhan.

The 30 miniatures, it contains, present a very refined miniature style rendered by the same hand. The stories depicted show a different type of iconography compared with those found in the other manuscripts of the Humāyūnnāme, Anvār-i Suhaill and Kalīla va Dimna. Although some of the miniatures depict stories common to the Bute Anvār-i Suhailī, both stylistically and iconographically they are of different type. The closest parallel to a miniature of the Cairo manuscript is found in the scattered leaves of a Humāyūnnāme in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. The story of the tortoise travelling with the geese is depicted in both. The setting of the miniatures, the types and postures of the figures and the motifs of architecture look similar in both of the miniatures. It seems that either they copied the same model or they were copied from one another. Since the Boston manuscript is fragmentary containing only five miniatures, its not possible to determine whether the Boston manuscript was also executed in Cairo.

Stylistically the Cairo Humāyūnnāme bears traces of the early Ottoman Court style in the delicate small figures, and in the rendition of the landscape. However, the sketchy manner in which the architecture is depicted, and the motifs of genre included into the contents of the stories arc rather different from the Ottoman style of the capital. The facial features of the figures and the neatness of the vegetation seen in the open - air compositions also bear some influences of the miniatures executed during the period of the Cir-cassian Mamluks in Egypt such as those in the Iskendernāme of Ahmedī preserved in the University library in Istanbul. The painter seems to have preferred a rather decorative - narrative style in conveying the stories into visual images. The way in which the stories depicted in a setting of genre call to mind the daily - life scenes which became popular during the second half of the sixteenth century in Persia. In that sense the miniatures are completely different from the images of the Kalīla va Dimna manuscripts of the previous centuries, and convey the same realistic spirit with the Bute manuscript of Anvār-i Suhailī executed in 1593 by Sadiqi beg.

Stylistically the closest parallel of the Cairo manuscript seems to be a manuscript of Nusrctnâme in the British Museum. The types of the figures and the architecture show some similarities. Whether they were both executed in the same place, we do not know. We hope that future researches will bring to light some more manuscripts executed in the Ottoman Egypt in order to reveal the activity of miniature painting in this province of the Ottomans.