• Qajar Shirin and Farhad


These two illustrations feature scenes from the story of Shirin and Farhad. Their tragic love story is well known today, from Turkey to India and is especially popular in Iran. The encounter between Shirin and Farhad is part of a longer and much more tragic love story of Shirin and Khusrow.


Farhad, the bearded man in the images, was a humble engineer, artist and craftsmen famed for his skill at carving rock, who served Shirin, the Queen of Armenia. Farhad fell in love with Shirin.

In order to dissuade Farhad from his love for Shirin, Khusrow set him the impossible task of carving a tunnel through Mount Behistun. Before starting this arduous task, Farhad carved the likeness of Shirin into the rock face. It was that moment that is captured in these two miniature paintings.


Farhad's story does not end well. He is tricked by Khusrow into believing that Shirin has died, after which he kills himself using the tools that he had used to carve her very image into the rock.

Image from the story of Farhad and Shirin of Ghulam Mirza Khuchek.
Iran, Qajar, AH 1274/ 1857 CE
Opaque watercolour, ink and gilt paint on paper