The Book of Felicity

The Book of Felicity f. 18v, Virgo: Sun, Venus and Mercury

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f. 18v, Virgo: Sun, Venus and Mercury

The Arabic word for the sign of Virgo is sunbula (Tk. sünbüle), meaning “ear of corn”. Consequently, Virgo’s iconography is surprising to “Western” observers and even more so because it is the only one of the twelve signs that deviates from the established tradition. The sign is represented by the planetary lord, Mercury, no longer endowed with his scribal attributes but dynamically engaged in cutting down three long ears of corn with a scythe. The planet has a short-sleeved, pale coat that is also shorter than the red, long-sleeved tunic underneath.

The decades are represented by the Sun, Venus in a dancing posture playing clappers and Mercury as the scribe.

Stefano Carboni
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Curatorial Assistant in Islamic Art
 (Fragment of the Book of Felicity commentary volume)


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