The Siyer-i Nebi is a Turkish epic about the life of Muhammad, completed around 1388, written by Mustafa son of Yusuf of Erzurum, known as al-Darir, a Mevlevi dervish on the commission of Sultan Berkuk, the Mamluk ruler in Cairo. The text is based on a 13th-century Arabic version by al-Bakri of the original Biography of the Prophet by al-Waqidi (748-822).
The Ottoman ruler Murad III (1574–1595) commissioned a lavish illustrated copy of the work, which has been described as "the largest single cycle of religious painting in Islamic art" and "the most complete visual portrayal of the life of the prophet Muhammad". The famous calligrapher Lutfi Abdullah (Lütfi Abdullah) was in charge of the workshop at the royal palace, and completed the work under Murad's successor Mehmed III, on 16 January 1595. The completed work contained 814 miniatures in six volumes, which include many depictions of Muhammad, who is always shown with a veiled face, as was the convention by this date; he is also surrounded by flames, in the Eastern equivalent of a halo. The style of the miniatures is distinctive, and owes nothing to earlier treatments of these subjects, as well as being "strikingly different" to the normal realist style of Ottoman miniatures; its origins remain unclear. There are few figures in each scene, no extensive landscapes, and a "suppression of detail".
Volumes I, II and VI are in the Topkapı Museum (Hazine 1221-1223); Volume III is in the New York Public Library; Volume IV is (mostly) in the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin (MS T 419), and Volume V is missing, as are about 200 of the miniatures in total. About two dozen of the miniatures are in the hands of private collectors. Four were sold at the Hôtel Drouot auction house in Paris in March 1984.
A 17th century copy of the fourth volume, made in the court atelier, is in the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, Sultanahmet, Istanbul. It was donated to a mosque library in Aksaray, Istanbul, by the Sultan's mother in 1862-63.
Muhammad at the Kaaba
Muhammad removes a dragon from the Kaaba
Muhammad at Mount Hira
Muhammad at the Battle of Badr
- Antika, The Turkish Journal Of Collectible Art, June 1986
- Blair, Sheila, and Bloom, Jonathan M., The Art and Architecture of Islam, 1250-1800, 1995, Yale University Press Pelican History of Art, ISBN 0-300-06465-9
- Fisher, Carol Garrett, "A Reconstruction of the Pictorial Cycle of the "Siyar-i Nabī" of Murād III", Ars Orientalis, Vol. 14, (1984), pp. 75-94, Freer Gallery of Art and University of Michigan, JSTOR
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