No. 39 Eskandar (Alexander the Great) contemplates the Talking Tree
Timurid: Shiraz, c.1430
Patron: Ebrahim Soltan b. Shah Rokh
Illuminator: Nasr al-Soltani
Opaque watercolours, ink and gold on paper
Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Ouseley Add. 176, fol. 311v
Towards the end of his travels, Eskandar, or Alexander the Great, came to a town at the edge of the world. The local curiosity was a tree with two trunks of talking heads; the male trunk spoke by day and the female at night. Intrigued, Eskandar visited the tree and heard a voice prophesying his death. He is shown here standing before the tree in bewilderment, his finger to his lips. The tree’s mystical qualities are emphasized by the assortment of human and animal heads. The absence of text lends the image an unusual solemnity.