"Hasht-Bihisht" (Persian: هشت بهشت, lit. "The Eight Paradises") is a famous poem written by Amir Khusrow around 1302 AD. It is one of the five poems of Khusrow's Khamsa (Quintet). The poem is based on the Haft Paykar by Nizami, written around 1197 AD, which in turn takes its outline from the earlier epic Shahnameh written by Firdausi around 1010 AD. Like Nizami's Haft Paykar, Khusro's Hasht Bihisht uses a legend about Bahram V Gur as its frame story and, in the style of One Thousand and One Nights, introduces folktales told by seven princesses. Most famously, Khusro appears to be the first writer to have added The Three Princes of Serendip as characters and the story of the alleged camel theft and recovery.
The eight "paradises" in the poem link closely with the Islamic conception of Heaven with its eight gates and eight spaces, each one decorated with a special precious stone or material. Seven of the eight paradises are pavilions constructed for Bahram's "therapy" of storytelling. There is also a link to the architectural and garden plan of eight paradises.
The narrative commences with the story of Bahram and Dilaram.
Later, Bahram has seven differently-coloured domed pavilions built for him within his palace grounds, in which wait seven princesses from various parts of the world. Bahram Gur visits each on a different day of the week and each of them tells him a story:
- Saturday – the Black Pavilion – the Indian Princess (The Tale of the Three Princes of Serendip)
- Sunday – the Yellow Pavilion – the Princess of Nimruz
- Monday – the Green Pavilion – the Slav Princess
- Tuesday – the Red Pavilion – the Tatar Princess
- Wednesday – the Violet Pavilion – the Princess of Rum
- Thursday – the Brown Pavilion – the Arabian Princess
- Friday – the White Pavilion – the Princess of Khwarezm
The Hasht-Bihisht, and indeed the whole of the Khamsah, was a popular work in the centuries after Khusro's death, not only in India, but in Iran and the Ottoman Empire, and as such was illustrated nearly as frequently as Nizami's Khamsah from the early fifteenth century on.
The Hasht-Bihisht has never been translated entirely into any language except Italian. Verse translations of two stories (Tuesday and Friday) by Sunil Sharma have been published.
Walters Art Museum Manuscript W.623
- Bahram Gur recognizes Dilaram by the music with which she enchants the animals
- Bahram Gur in the red pavilion
- Bahram Gur in the brown pavilion
Walters Art Museum Manuscript W.624
The manuscript was written in nasta'liq script by one of the greatest calligraphers of the Mughal atelier, Muhammad Husayn al-Kashmiri, honoured with the epithet Zarrin Qalam (golden pen). The manuscript has the names of a number of painters: Lal, Manuhar, Sanwalah, Farrukh, Aliquli, Dharamdas, Narsing, Jagannath, Miskina, Mukund, and Surdas Gujarati. The illuminators are Husayn Naqqash, Mansur Naqqash, Khvajah Jan Shirazi, and Lutf Allah Muzahhib
- The princesses of the seven pavilions bow in homage to Bahram Gur.
- The tale told by the princess of the Yellow Pavilion. Hassan the goldsmith descending from imprisonment in a tower, as his wife goes up to imprisonment.
- The Story of the Princess of the Blue Pavilion, Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Bahram Gur visiting the Princess of Arabia in the Brown Pavilion
- The story of the Princess of Khwarezm in the White Pavilion.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hasht-Bihisht.|
- "Encyclopaedia Iranica entry on Hast Behest". Iranicaonline.org. Retrieved 2013-03-24.
- Brend, Barbara (2002). Perspectives on Persian painting : illustrations to Amir Khusrau's Khamsah. New York: Routledge. pp. 25–34. ISBN 978-0-7007-1467-4.
- Gabbay, Alyssa (2009). Islamic tolerance : Amir Khusraw and pluralism (1. publ. ed.). London: Routledge. p. 43. ISBN 978-0-415-77913-5.
- "Walters Art Museum Ms. W.623 on". Flickr.com. Retrieved 2013-03-24.
- "The Walters Art Museum set for the manuscript on". Flickr.com. Retrieved 2013-03-24.
- "Description page at". Thedigitalwalters.org. Retrieved 2013-03-24.
- The image page at metmuseum.org