At the end of the 12th century, the great poet Niẓāmī, from Ganjah in modern-day Azerbaijan, completed his Khamsah (Quintet). Some of his most beautiful descriptive passages in rhyming couplets convey the epic romance of one of these five books which make up this work. Known as Haft Paykar (Seven Portraits or Seven Beauties), it recounts the tale of Bahrām Gūr, a figure based on the Sāsānian Persian king Bahrām V (r. 421-438 AD).
While still a prince, Bahrām Gūr is sent to Yemen to learn the art of kingship. In a palace there he finds a room decorated with portraits of seven beautiful princesses from the seven climes. The prince falls in love with all of them, and after becoming king of Persia he marries all seven and builds each her own palace within the royal complex.
The narrative then relates Bahrām Gūr's visits to the seven pavilions and the stories with which the beautiful ladies entertain him. Scholars have interpreted the textual and visual imagery of Niẓāmī's story as an allegorical representation of the seven spheres of heaven and of the seven stages of the spiritual journey for those who follow the mystical path.
Bukhara, 1553.Niẓāmī's Haft Paykar or Seven Beauties, the acclaimed tale of Bahrām Gūr visiting seven princesses in seven pavilions was retold by many later poets. One of the most significant versions was by Mīr ʿAlī Shīr, known as Navāʾī, a courtier and close companion of Sulṭān Ḥusayn Bāyqarā, at the Timurid court of Herat. This outstanding miniature painting is part of a copy of Navaʾi's Sabʿah Sayyārah or Seven Planets, which tells the tale in the Chagatai Turkish language. Bahrām Gūr, dressed in a blue robe, listens to a story with the lady of the Blue Pavilion seated below a tiled blue dome. (MS. Elliott 318, fol. 47a)