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[Mir Afżal al-Ḥusaynī al-Tūnī]

(fl Isfahan, 1640–51).

Persian illustrator. Active during the reign of the Safavid shah ‛Abbas II (reg 1642–66), Afzal produced manuscript illustrations and single pages for albums in different styles. Most of the 62 paintings he made for the voluminous copy (St Petersburg, Saltykov-Shchedrin Pub. Lib., Dorn 333) of Firdawi’s Shāhnāma (‘Book of kings’) presented to the monarch by the head of the royal guard, Murtiza Quli Khan, are scenes of battles and combats in the Metropolitan style that was transferred from Herat to Bukhara (see Islamic art, §III, 4(vi)(c)). Unlike the tinted drawings of his contemporaries, Afzal’s single-page compositions use a rich, sombre palette highlighted with gold. Most depict the standard repertory of languid youths and lovers in the style of Riza, but are more erotic. Bishop with a Crosier (Los Angeles, CA, Co. Mus. A., M.73.5.456) is the only known Persian portrait of an Armenian religious figure; it shows a broad-faced, sensitively modelled figure similar in style to those in the ...


Sheila R. Canby

[ Mīr Zayn al-‛Ābidīn Tabrīzī ]

( fl c. Qazvin, 1570–1602).

Persian illustrator, illuminator and calligrapher . The grandson and pupil of Sultan-Muhammad , Zayn al-‛Abidin worked exclusively for royal and noble patrons at the Safavid court in Qazvin ( see Islamic art, §III, 4(vi)(a) ). He contributed an illustration of Nariman Killing the Ruler of China to a copy (London, BL, Or. MS. 12985; fol. 90v) of Asadi’s Gārshāspnāma (‘Book of Garshasp’) produced at Qazvin in 1573 and four paintings to a dispersed copy of the Shāhnāma (‘Book of kings’) made for Isma‛il II (reg 1576–8). The artist’s style is characterized by solid forms, extreme precision and compositions that resemble the style typical of Tabriz in the first half of the 16th century rather than the more mannered one typical of Qazvin in the 1570s. His best known illumination is the splendid signed frontispiece for the unfinished copy (Dublin, Chester Beatty Lib., MS. 277) of the Shāhnāma, thought to have been commissioned upon the accession of ‛Abbas I in ...


[Khwāja ‛Abd al-Ḥayy]

(fl c. 1374; d Samarkand, 1405).

Illustrator and painter. According to the Safavid chronicler Dust Muhammad, ‛Abd al-Hayy trained under Shams al-Din at Baghdad during the reign of the Jalayirid sultan Uways I (reg 1356–74) and became the leading painter under his son Ahmad (reg 1382–1410), who was also ‛Abd al-Hayy’s pupil. When Timur took Baghdad, ‛Abd al-Hayy was sent to Samarkand, either in 1393 or in 1401, where he spent the rest of his life. He seems to have specialized in monochrome ink drawings: Dust Muhammad recorded that ‛Abd al-Hayy’s pupil, Ahmad Jalayir, contributed a black-and-white drawing to a manuscript of the Abūsa‛īdnāma (‘Book of Abu Sa‛id’), and a number of examples attributed to the late 14th century and preserved in various albums (e.g. Berlin, Staatsbib. Preuss. Kultbes., Orientabt. Diez A. 70–73) bear the notation that they were copied from ‛Abd al-Hayy’s drawings by Muhammad ibn Mahmud Shah Khayyam. In his album (Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., H. ...


[Khwāja ‛Alī Tabrīzī]

(fl Herat, 1420–45).

Persian illustrator. Khwaja ‛Ali of Tabriz is named as illuminator and illustrator in the colophon to a fine copy (Istanbul, Tokapı Pal. Lib., H. 781) of Nizami’s Khamsa (‘Five poems’), completed in 1445–6 for Ismat al-Dunya, the wife of the Timurid prince Muhammad Juki. The artist is probably to be identified with the ‘portraitist’ of that name who, according to Dust Muhammad, was brought by Muhammad Juki’s half-brother Baysunghur to Herat from Tabriz in 1420. Khwaja ‛Ali’s paintings in the Khamsa are distinguished by round-headed snub-nosed figures, refined and meticulous architecture and interiors, fresh and verdant foliage, and a palette of primary colours with much green and purple. Many of his compositions repeat those used in earlier manuscripts. His style can be identified in several other manuscripts produced at Herat: a copy (1431; Istanbul, Mus. Turk. & Islam. A., MS. 1954) of Nizami ‛Arudi’s Chahār maqāla (‘Four discourses’) made for ...


Sheila S. Blair

[Mīrzā ‛Alī ibn Sulṭān-Muḥammad]

(b ?Tabriz, c. 1510; d before 1576).

Persian illustrator. According to the Safavid chronicler Qazi Ahmad, during the lifetime of the famous painter Sultan-Muhammad, his son Mirza ‛Ali worked in the library of the Safavid ruler Tahmasp I and had no match in figural and decorative painting and in portraiture. The Ottoman historian Mustafa ‛Ali placed Mirza ‛Ali at the head of the list of designers and called him a celebrated master and painter. Two paintings in the magnificent copy (London, BL, Or. MS. 2265, fols 48v and 77v) of Nizami’s Khamsa (‘Five poems’) made for Tahmasp in 1539–43 are ascribed to Mirza ‛Ali. Their realism, logical arrangement of space and psychological insight led Dickson and Welch to attribute other works to the artist and trace a long career, stretching into the 1570s. They suggested that in the 1530s and 1540s Mirza ‛Ali worked on the major manuscripts produced for the Safavid court, contributing six paintings to the monumental copy (ex-Houghton priv. col., fols 18...


[Muḥammad ‛Alī al-Mashhadī ibn Malik Ḥusayn al-Iṣfahānī]

(fl Isfahan, 1645–60).

Persian illustrator. The son of a painter, Muhammad ‛Ali became one of the most popular and prolific painters at the court of the Safavid monarch ‛Abbas II (reg 1642–66). Muhammad ‛Ali was a skilled and competent artist who preferred rounded contours and simple forms. Although he was not as innovative in form and style as his contemporary Mu‛in, Muhammad ‛Ali’s figures convey tremendous charm, animation and vitality. Eight of his paintings illustrate his own copy (Baltimore, MD, Walters A.G., MS 649) of Muhammad Riza Naw‛i’s Sūz u gudāz (‘Burning and consuming’). The largest number of the artist’s ink drawings highlighted with colour washes and gold illustrate a copy (Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., H. 1010) of Hafiz’s Dīvān (collected poetry). His album pages include standard figures of youths, elderly men and lovers as well as more unusual group scenes, such as one of bears imitating a court.

See images tab for additional illustrations....


Sheila S. Blair

[Muẓaffar ‛Alī ibn Haydar ‛Alī al-Tabrīzī]

(fl late 1520s–70s; d Qazvin, c. 1576).

Persian calligrapher, illustrator, painter and poet. He was a versatile artist who belonged to the second generation working for Tahmasp I (reg 1524–76) at the Safavid court in north-west Iran (see Islamic art, §III, 4(vi)(a)). His career has been reconstructed by Dickson and Welch on the basis of brief notices by Safavid artists and historians, signed calligraphies and ascribed paintings. He studied calligraphy with the master Rustam ‛Ali, and several folios in the album compiled for Bahram Mirza in 1544–5 (Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., H. 2154) are signed jointly by Rustam ‛Ali for the writing and Muzaffar ‛Ali for the découpage (Arab. qat‛). He was a master of nasta‛lıq script, and two examples in the album prepared for Amir Ghayb Beg in 1564–5 (Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., H. 2161) are signed by him. In the introduction to this album, Malik Daylami wrote of his skill in calligraphic decoration and gold illumination, and the chronicler Qazi Ahmad reported that he also excelled in gold-flecking, gilding and varnished painting. Muzaffar ‛Ali reportedly studied painting with the renowned master ...


Sheila R. Canby

[Qāsim ibn ‛Alī Chihra-gushāy: ‘portrait painter’]

(fl c. Herat, 1475–c. 1526).

Iranian illustrator. He was one of the most renowned painters at the court of the Timurid sultan Husayn Bayqara (see Timurid family §II, (8)) and his associate ‛Alishir Nava’i (see also Islamic art, §III, 4(v)(d)). The chronicler Mīrzā Muhammad Haydar Dughlāt (1500–51) described him as a portrait painter and pupil of Bihzad and said that Qasim ‛Ali’s works came close to Bihzad’s but were rougher. The historian Khwāndamīr (d 1535–6) noted that Qasim ‛Ali worked in the library of ‛Alishir Nava’i, the poet, bibliophile and major patron, but that by the 1520s, having made the pilgrimage to Mecca and moved to Sistan, he apparently had ceased painting. His style is difficult to define because many works are falsely ascribed to him. The four paintings most convincingly attributed to him are in the style of Bihzad and illustrate a copy (divided, Oxford, Bodleian Lib., Elliott 287, 317, 339 and 408; Manchester, John Rylands U. Lib., Turk. MS. 3) of ‛Alishir’s ...



Priscilla P. Soucek

[Kamāl al-Dīn Bihzād; Behzad]

(b c. 1450; d Tabriz, 1535–6).

Persian illustrator. The most famous master of Persian painting, he is important both for the paintings he executed and for the wider influence of the style associated with his name. Evidently orphaned at a young age, Bihzad is said to have been raised and trained by Mirak, a painter and calligrapher employed in Herat by Sultan Husayn (see Timurid family §II, (8) and Islamic art, §III, 4(v)(d)) and his minister ‛Alishir Nava’i. The earliest literary reference to Bihzad’s work is contained in the Khulāṣat al-akḥbār (‘Essences of the eminent’), a history of the Timurid dynasty composed by Khwandamir in 1499–1500 but recounting events before 1471. Khwandamir described Bihzad as one of several skilled painters associated with these two patrons. The senior artist among them was Bihzad’s teacher, Mirak, but greatest praise was reserved for another painter, Qasim ‛Ali. By 1524, when Khwandamir completed his general history, Habīb al-siyar...


Sheila R. Canby

[Dūst Muḥammad ibn Sulaymān al-Haravī]

(b Kawashan, nr Herat, c. 1490; d c. 1565). Persian calligrapher, illustrator and man of letters. A pupil of Bihzad, Dust Muhammad was in service to the Safavid ruler Tahmasp I. The artist’s earliest signed works are three calligraphic specimens executed at Herat in 1511–12 and mounted in an album (St Petersburg, Rus. N. Lib., Dorn 147). According to Dickson and Welch, his earliest paintings are six illustrations in a manuscript (St Petersburg, Rus. N. Lib., Dorn 441, fols 8v, 10r, 31v, 32v, 36v, 53v) of ‛Arifi’s Gūy ū Chawgān (‘Ball and bandy’) copied by the shah at Tabriz in 1524–5. They attribute to Dust Muhammad five paintings in the monumental copy (ex-Houghton priv. col., fols 308v, 551v, 658v, 663v, 745v) of the Shāhnāma (‘Book of kings’) made for Tahmasp. The sparse compositions have awkward, flattened figures with ill-fitting turbans and oddly shaped thumbs and flimsy, planar architecture. A calligraphic specimen (Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., H. ...



(fl c. Baghdad,1396).

Illustrator. In the preface recounting the history of past and present painters in an album compiled for the Safavid prince Bahram Mirza in 1544 (Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., H. 2154), the chronicler Dust Muhammad stated that Junayd of Baghdad was a pupil of Shams al-Din, who worked under the Jalayirid sultan Uways I (reg 1356–74). The only signed work of Junayd known to survive is Humay and Humayun on the Day after their Wedding, one of nine paintings in a manuscript (London, BL, Add. MS. 18113, fol. 45v) of the Dīvān (collected poetry) of Khwaju Kirmani copied at Baghdad in 1396. All the paintings show the same meticulous finish, lyricism and slender puppet-like figures integrated into complex settings and can be attributed to the hand of Junayd (see Islamic art, §III, 4(v)(c) and fig.). Another painting has been detached from the manuscript and included in ...


Esin Atil

[Naṣūḥ al-Silāḥī al-Matrāqī; Naṣūḥ ibn Qaragöz ibn ‛Abdallāh al-Būsnawī]

(b Visoko, Bosnia; fl 1517; d April 28, 1564).

Ottoman soldier, writer, copyist and illustrator. He initiated the topographical style of painting that became characteristic of the illustrated histories produced at the Ottoman court in the 1550s (see Islamic art, §III, 4(vi)(e)). As a youth he was recruited into the imperial service in a forced levy (devşirme) and was trained as a page in the household of Sultan Bayezid II (reg 1481–1512). He later served as an officer in the Ottoman army, where he was noted as a swordsman. He was also celebrated as the inventor of new forms of the game of matrak, played by throwing sticks or weapons as a form of military training.

Nasuh was a prolific writer on mathematics, swordsmanship and history. In 1520 he began the translation from Arabic into Turkish of al-Tabari’s Majura‛ al-tawārīkh (‘Compendium of histories’), to which he added a section covering the history of the Ottomans to ...


S. J. Vernoit

(b Asilah, Nov 22, 1936).

Moroccan painter and graphic artist. He studied art in Morocco at the Escuela Preparatoria de Bellas Artes in Tétouan between 1953 and 1955, then in Seville and Madrid, as well as at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome, at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and at Columbia University, NY. After the independence of Morocco in 1956 its painters began to search for a national and cultural identity, and Melehi was among the leaders of this movement. He taught at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Casablanca from 1964 to 1969, along with fellow Moroccan artists Farid Belkahia and Mohamed Chebaa (b 1935).

As one of the ‘Casablanca Group’ Melehi objected to the foreign monopoly of artistic thought in Morocco, and organized the first exhibition of this group in 1965. He also organized the Exposition manifeste in the Jama‛ al-Fna Square in Marrakesh in 1969. Along with 39 other Moroccan painters, such as Belkahia, Chebaa, Moustapha Hafid (...



S. J. Vernoit

[Mīrak Naqqāsh; Amīr Rūḥallāh]

(fl Herat, c. 1468–1507).

Persian calligrapher, illuminator and illustrator. The chroniclers Mirza Muhammad Haydar Dughlat and Dust Muhammad refer to Mirak as the teacher of the painter Bihzad, who was also brought up by Mirak, according to the author Qazi Ahmad. Mirak rose to become director of the library of the Timurid Sultan Husayn (reg 1470–1506; see Timurid family, §II, (8)) and attended the Sultan closely, on journeys and at court. According to Haydar Dughlat, Mirak worked in the open air and was known for his athletic abilities. Paintings attributed to him include four illustrations (one a double frontispiece) from a copy of Nizami’s Khamsa (‘Five poems’; 1494–5; London, BL, Or. MS. 6810) to which Mirak’s name has been added in the margins by later hands. He was probably responsible for the four contemporary paintings in a copy of ‛Attar’s Man ṭiq al- ṭayr (‘Conference of the birds’; New York, Met., 67.210.1–67 and may have planned the compositions for the other four not finished until the early 17th century. Mirak’s figures are stiffer and more archaic in comparison to Bihzad’s work. The Timurid historian Khwandamir related that Mirak designed most of the inscriptions in the buildings of Herat and died during the occupation of Khurasan by Muhammad Shaybani (...


Sheila R. Canby

[Sayyid Aqā Jalāl al-Dīn Mīrak al-Ḥasanī (or al-Ḥusaynī) al-Iṣfahānī]

(fl Tabriz, c. 1520–55; Mashhad, c. 1555–65; Qazvin, 1565–?75; d before 1576).

Persian illustrator and painter. He was painter, purveyor and boon companion to the Safavid shah Tahmasp I and was well known in contemporary circles. The contemporary chronicler Dūst Muhammad mentioned that Aqa Mirak along with Mir Musavvir did wall paintings for Prince Sam Mirza’s palace in Tabriz and illustrations for royal manuscripts of Firdawsi’s Shāhnāma (‘Book of kings’) and Nizami’s Khamsa (‘Five poems’). Qazi Ahmad wrote that he had no peer in artistic design and was an incomparable painter, very clever, enamoured of his art, a bon vivant, an intimate [of the Shah] and a sage. A manuscript (London, BL, Or. MS. 2265) of the Khamsa done between 1539 and 1543 has four illustrations bearing attributions to Aqa Mirak. Dickson and Welch have attributed other paintings to Aqa Mirak in the monumental copy (dispersed; ex-Houghton priv. col.) of the Shāhnāma made for Tahmasp, and have used these attributions to define four periods in the artist’s life. Works ascribed to a youthful period in the 1520s have tautly composed landscapes inhabited by a few large-scale figures. A transitional period in the early 1530s was followed by mature works produced from the late 1530s to ...



Eleanor Sims

[Mu‛īn Muṣavvir]

(b c. 1617; fl Isfahan, 1635–97).

Persian illustrator and painter. Numerous works clearly signed in black ink mu‛īn muṣavvir (‘Mu‛in the painter’) establish the dates of this artist’s activity. He codified the style developed by his teacher Riza and remained impervious to the eclecticism of late 17th-century art (see Islamic art, §III, 4(vi)(a)). Mu‛in often drew in magenta; his art had a firm ground in calligraphy and an equally firm colourism, but his palette is less intense than Riza’s and less deep in tonality; his figures are also less mannered in form and less extravagant in line than Riza’s and the males often sport the broad moustaches made fashionable by ‛Abbas I (reg 1588–1629). Signed works include copiously illustrated manuscripts, nearly 60 single-figure paintings and ink drawings, and painted and varnished bookbindings (see Islamic art, §VIII, 10). Many of the manuscripts (e.g. Dublin, Chester Beatty Lib., P. 270, dated 1656) are copies of Firdawsi’s ...


[Darvīsh Muḥammad]

(fl Tabriz, c. 1475–1500).

Illustrator. Darvish Muhammad was active at the court of the Aqqoyunlu sultans Khalil (reg 1478) and Ya‛qub (reg 1478–90). His name appears in a lengthy note to a fine copy (Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., H. 762, fols 316v–317r) of Nizami’s Khamsa (‘Five poems’), which was completed under the patronage of a succession of Timurid and Turkoman rulers (see Islamic art, §III, 4(v)(e) and fig.). The note recounts the complicated history of the manuscript and says that Khalil commissioned Darvish Muhammad, along with Shaykhi, to illustrate the work. The name Darvish Muhammad also appears on three works in the two Ya‛qub Beg albums (Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., H. 2153 and H. 2160). As so few works in the albums are attributed to this important painter, Robinson suggested that Darvish Muhammad be identified with Muhammad Siyah Qalam, whose name appears on 65 works in the albums....


Sheila S. Blair

[Shaykh Muḥammad ibn Shaykh Kamāl al-Sabzavārī]

(d Qazvin, c. 1588).

Persian calligrapher and illustrator. Son of a master calligrapher who specialized in religious manuscripts, he studied with the painter and chronicler Dust Muhammad, who mentioned Shaykh Muhammad as one of the calligraphers working in the royal library of the Safavid monarch Tahmasp I (reg 1524–76). The chroniclers Qazi Ahmad and Iskandar Munshi wrote that Shaykh Muhammad had a good nasta‛līo hand and could produce replicas of earlier masters. They also cited his skill in portraiture and reported that he was in service to Tahmasp’s nephew Ibrahim Mirza, first when he was Governor at Mashhad in 1556, then during his exile at Sabzevar (1567–74), and finally when the prince moved to western Iran; most of Shaykh Muhammad’s signed and dated works are from this period. They include two calligraphic pieces dated 1562–3 and 1568–9 (Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., H. 2137, fol. 18v, and H. 2151, fol. 39...


Sheila R. Canby

[Muḥammadī Haravī]

(fl c. Qazvin, c. 1570–78; Herat, 1578–87).

Persian draughtsman and illustrator. Although the Ottoman historian Mustafa ‛Ali identified Muhammadi as a son of Sultan-Muhammad (quoted in Armenag Bey Sakisian: La Miniature Persane (Paris and Brussels, 1929), p. 123), such a kinship is unlikely in light of Muhammadi’s epithet Haravī (from Herat) used in an inscription on a painting after Muhammadi (Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., H. 2140, fol. 5r) of a seated youth with a falcon. As A. Welch has reconstructed Muhammadi’s life, he worked at the studio of the Safavid ruler Isma‛il II (reg 1576–8) at Qazvin but after the accession of Muhammad Khudabanda (reg 1578–88) left for Khurasan. Muhammadi’s subsequent itinerary is suggested by his portrait (Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., H. 2155, fol. 20v) of ‛Aliquli Khan dated 1584, while he was governor of Herat (1581–7). B. W. Robinson places his floruit entirely in Herat from c....


Ernst J. Grube

[Aḥmad Mūsā]

(fl c. 1330–50).

Persian illustrator. In the preface to an album he compiled for the Safavid prince Bahram Mirza in 1544 (Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., H. 2154), the Safavid librarian Dust Muhammad wrote that during the reign of the Ilkhanid Abu Sa‛id (reg 1317–35) the master Ahmad Musa ‘lifted the veil from the face of depiction, and the [style of] depiction that is now current was invented by him’. Dust Muhammad credited Ahmad Musa with illustrating an Abūsa‛īdnāma (‘Book of Abu Sa‛id’), a Kalila and Dimna, a Mi‛rājnāma (‘Book of the ascension’) and a Tārīkh-i Chingīzī (‘History of Genghis Khan’); ten illustrations from a 14th-century Mi‛rājnāma, four of them attributed to Ahmad Musa, are included in Dust Muhammad’s album. He presented Ahmad Musa as a major link in the development of Persian book painting in the 14th century (see Islamic art, §III, 4(v)(b) and (c)): having learnt the art from his father, Ahmad Musa in turn trained ...