Primary Source

Maqamat al-Hariri, Rural Scenes by al-Wasiti [Painting]


The image by 13th–century illustrator al-Wasiti is from the Maqamat (Assemblies), a collection of stories of a picaresque hero. The author, al-Hariri (1054-1122 CE), is an important figure in Arabic literary history. The illustrations belong to the Baghdad School of miniature illustration, and depict scenes of ordinary life. The scene illustrates aspects of a village life. Al-Wasiti used a composition technique in which multiple levels show different planes of the scene, allowing him to compress many aspects of village life into the small space of the painting. A date palm, the village mosque, and the individual brick or adobe houses line the village street. Al-Wasiti portrayed the intimacy of life in the village, with each door open to show the family dynamics and work being done. A girl stands in one doorway with a woman, probably her mother. A woman in another doorway appears to call to someone, while a husband and wife nearby converse or argue. Poultry roost on the roofs of houses, a woman spins thread, and people tend domestic animals, including sheep, goats and water buffalo, often the work of women and children.


Discussion near a village, from the 43rd maqāmah of the Maqāmāt ("Assemblies") of al-Harīrī, miniature painted by Yahyā ibn Mahmūd al-Wāsitī, 1237; in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.

How to Cite This Source

"Maqamat al-Hariri, Rural Scenes by al-Wasiti [Painting]," in Children and Youth in History, Item #241, (accessed January 16, 2022). Annotated by Susan Douglass