Tuti-Nameh – Tales of a Parrot by Nahsabi from the Collection of the University Library in Wrocław

  • Magdalena Ginter-Frołow (Author)

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Tuti-Nameh (Tales of a Parrot) by Nahsabi (Ms. or I 56) from University Library in Wrocław is one of fourteen Persian manuscripts with miniatures, existing in Polish collections. This poem is modelled on The Thousand and One Nights. In this popular work the parrot tells tales to his mistress in order to prevent her from being unfaithful to her absent husband. Tales are recited by the parrot over 52 nights. This copy includes 97 miniatures illustrating these stories. This copy of “Tales of a Parrot” comes from the library of Count Oppersdorf from Oberglogau (now Głogówek). The history of this library reaches back to the 16th century and the times of Hans Oppersdorff. Successive owners continued to purchase new books and thus at the end of 19th century the collection consisted of dozens of thousands of examples. One of the most important trustees was Count Hans Georg von Oppersdorff, who inherited the library in 1889. He was well-educated and interested in oriental languages. He knew Hebrew, and supposedly spoke seven other languages fluently. The fulfilment of his scholarly interests was possible thanks to growing up amidst one of the largest libraries in Upper Silesia. In 1927 Hans Georg donated Tuti-Nameh, and a few other oriental manuscripts, to the University Library in Wrocław (Staats – und Universitätsbibliothek in Breslau).The miniatures in this manuscript bear a close resemblance to miniatures from Divan of Mirza Khan Kabuli from The State Hermitage in Saint Petersburg. This copy of Divan was made in 1813, probably in Kashmir. The invention, composition, colour scheme, subject matter and details are practically identical in both these books. This proves that Tutiname from Wrocław was also made in Kashmir in the end of the 18th, or beginning of 19th century. Although nowadays many miniatures from Kashmir are in European collections, this school of painting is still almost unrecognised. Tuti-Nameh from University Library in Wrocław can play an important role in research of this field.