Erotic art history (2) --- Seljuk empire

(From the pages of Erotic Art History:)

Today’s piece of historic erotic art comes to us from the Seljuk Empire (1) (a Turko-Persian Sunni Muslim empire that spanned much of the Middle East (2)) circa 1240 CE.  The image is one of a collection of 96 well known illustrations by al-Wasiti from the popular collection of stories, “Al Maqamat”, which is one of the most well known texts in the Arabic language and was written by the famously clever linguist Al-Hariri of Basra. (3)  The images cover a wide variety of subjects of daily life at the time (going to the library, suing in front of a judge) and are frequently used to illustrate books on Arabic and Islamic culture.  (1)
The text is best summarized by the article on the “Old Manuscripts & Incunabula” website regarding the work:
“Al-Maqamat is the title of a book written by Abu Muhammad al Qasim ibn Ali al-Hariri (1054-1122) containing fifty relatively short stories (maquamat = “settings” or “sessions”), each one identified by the name of a city in the Muslim world of the time. The stories tell of actual adventures and especially the verbal pronouncements in verse or in prose of a roguish and peripatetic hero, Abu Zayd from Saruj, a town in northern Syria, as told by al-Harith, a sober and slightly gullible merchant travelling from place to place. Double and triple puns, unusual meanings of words and elaborate grammatical constructions are used to exhibit the astounding and sophisticated wealth of the Arabic language. The genre of the maqamat became an almost instant success because of the extraordinary quality of its writing.” (1) 
In this scene, two men (Al-Harith and Abu-Zayd) are on camelback as they hold hands, embrace, and touch noses as they appear to be in the process of kissing goodbye.  Though almost certainly unintentional, as the “heart shape” symbol signifying love did not develop until several centuries later (4) and the gold embellishment on the blue sleeve appears to unintentionally contribute to the illusion of a heart, the two men’s halos come together to frame their heads in a heart shape which compliments their affection to the modern eye.


(2) WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE: “Seljuk Empire”

(3) WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE: “Al-Hariri of Basra”

(4) WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE: “Heart (symbo)l” 

BRITANNICA ARTICLE: “Yahya ibn Mahmud al-Wasiti”


  1. pic: they seem to have intergenerational sex!

  2. Xersex: Thank You for your comments as always. What's so interesting about it: homosexuality has been a universal, and universally recognized phenomenon; homophobia, as we know it now, is of fairly recent origin.


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