Primary Source

Majalis al-‘ushshak: Gathering in a Mosque [Miniature Painting]


This image from a 16th-century Persian manuscript illustrates the visit of a renowned teacher to a mosque. Such visits were much anticipated, and this image demonstrates the wide range of people who attended. Seating arrangements illustrate the social organization for the event. The guest of honor sat on the seat at the top of the minbar, or pulpit, while the older men sat in the first row. Younger men sat farther away, while youth without beards sat or stood on the sides. Women and young children sat in a separate section of the mosque, possibly a raised gallery or partitioned space on the same level. The painter showed small children with their mothers, some held in arms, others sitting on the floor. Because the women are among themselves, some have taken off their face veils and the bodice of their chador is loosened to show their clothing underneath. The small children were depicted climbing on their mothers' laps, interacting with them, pulling on their mothers veils and talking to them, visiting with other women who may have been their aunts, sisters, grandmothers or neighbors. The painter's style was very natural despite the formal composition, allowing the viewer to imagine some of the children running between the rows of worshippers during the prayer, a scene that can be witnessed in any mosque today.


From a manuscript of the Majalis al-'ushshak, Persian, mid-16th century. MS. Ouseley Add 24 f. 55v. Bodleian Library, Oxford.

How to Cite This Source

"Majalis al-‘ushshak: Gathering in a Mosque [Miniature Painting]," in Children and Youth in History, Item #268, (accessed January 16, 2022). Annotated by Susan Douglass