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Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden


Detached folio from a dispersed copy of Falnama (Book of omens);

Qazvin, Iran,

Safavid period, mid 1550s,

Opaque Watercolors, Ink and Gold on Paper

597x449mm



In this painting, Adam, whom Muslims consider the father of humanity and the first prophet, is depicted riding a serpent (dragon like); Eve rides a peacock. (1)



According to tradition, Iblis, the Islamic counterpart to Satan, was intent on entering the Garden of Eden to foil Adam and Eve. By appealing to his vanity, Iblis enticed the peacock, the gatekeeper of paradise, to allow the serpent, then the most beautiful of all creatures, to enter Eden. Seated between the serpent's fangs, Iblis entered the garden and seduced Adam and Eve into eating the fruit of the forbidden tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the tree of trust. Prior to that the human being was in a state of true innocence. Even nakedness provided no cue for shame or . Eating from that tree made human become independent and autonomous, and that was incompatible with the trustful relationship between Human and the Creator. Since then, and unlike the immortal angels, the human beings were condemned to experience death, and to choose, as the wrong choice became availabe. The choice made by Adam and Eve to test the bounds of prohibition indicate that they were indeed questioning the veracity of their creator's words, and they would not be the last humans to do so. The implication of this, a fearless creator putting his own reliability and credibility on the line to be affirmed by his creation, is that human beings find themselves in a constant position of choice. The original choice ,then, was not to a decision to gain moral discernment, sexual knowledge, a broader range of experience and maturity, nor to acquire some degree of omniscience and to become more like God. Neither was it strictly a choice to obey or disobey an arbitrary directive given by the creator. The prohibition was put in place to protect the community created by God wherein all things come from him, exist in him and are sustained by him. This human community was built on trust, and in order for it to remain authentic, the choice was given to humans either to continue as willing participants to trust communion with their creator, or to venture out on their own. Humanity decided to choose, and that choice gave her the capacity to experience love. Love is seeing the wrong thing but caring enough about someone to do the right thing.


(1) In reality there is no separation between Adam and Eve. Adam is Eve and Eve is Adam. She is the mirror of him, from him to him, and of his own substance. She also gives birth to him when she makes love with him. So she is his mother, daughter, and sister, as well as himself. Before Adam slept with Eve, he ate to take the secret life from the tree. What is the tree? It is herself, the essence of Eve, the mother. So first he ate of the essence of her life and then he entered her to give birth to himself again through her.

Other illustrations of Adam and Eve in Persian Miniature


Adam and Eve

Illustration from the masterpiece Qisas Al Anbiyaa, (the tales of Prophets)

1570-1580

317x199mm

Topkapi Museum



Adam and Eve expelled from paradise Illustration from the Falnama, the book of omens Late 16th century 303x429 mm



Painting from Manafi al-Hayawan (The Useful Animals), depicting Adam and Eve. From Maragh in Mongolian Iran. 1297-1299

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