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Article

Wheeler M. Thackston

[Mīr Sayyid Aḥmad al-Ḥusaynī al-Mashhadī]

(b Mashhad; fl 1550–74; d Mazandaran, 1578).

Persian calligrapher. He belonged to a family of Husayni sayyids, or descendants of the Prophet, and his father was a chandler. He was trained in calligraphy at Herat by Mir ‛Ali Husayni Haravi. When Mir ‛Ali was taken to Bukhara by the Uzbeks in 1529, Mir Sayyid Ahmad followed his master and was employed in the workshop of ‛Abd al-‛Aziz Khan, Shaybanid ruler of Bukhara. After the Khan’s death in 1550, Mir Sayyid Ahmad returned to Iran. For some years he served the Safavid shah Tahmasp (reg 1524–76) before retiring to Mashhad, where he taught calligraphy. When Tahmasp revoked his pension, Mir Sayyid Ahmad lived in penury until Mir Murad Khan, governor of Mazandaran province, visited Mashhad in 1557 and invited the calligrapher to his court. After Mir Murad Khan’s death, Mir Sayyid Ahmad returned again to Mashhad. He was in charge of assembling the Amir Ghayb Beg Album (Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., H. 2161), a splendid album of painting and calligraphy completed in ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Milo Cleveland Beach and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

[(Khwāja) ‛Abd al-Ṣamad; ‛Abd as-Ṣamad; Abdus Ṣamad]

(fl c. 1540–95).

Iranian miniature painter and calligrapher, active also in India. Trained in Safavid Iran, ‛Abd al-Samad migrated to India, where he became director of the Mughal painting workshops under the emperor Akbar (reg 1556–1605). In this key position, he influenced the development of Mughal painting in the second half of the 16th century more than any other artist (see Indian subcontinent §VI 4., (i), (b)).

No inscribed works by ‛Abd al-Samad are known from the period when he worked in Safavid Iran, though attributions have been proposed, such as a depiction of the assassination of Khusraw Parviz from the copy of the Shāhnāma made for Shah Tahmasp I (reg 1524–76). Already a mature painter, he paid homage in 1544 to Akbar’s father, the Mughal emperor Humayun (reg 1530–40; 1555–6), when the exiled ruler was given refuge at the court of the Safavid shah Tahmasp at Tabriz. In ...

Article

Sheila R. Canby

[Mīr Sayyid ‛Alī-i Tabrīzī]

(b Tabriz, c. 1510; d Mecca, after 1572).

Persian painter, active also in India. He was the son of the Safavid-period painter Mir Musavvir. Though Qazi Ahmad, writing in the late 16th century, deemed him cleverer in art than his father, Mir Sayyid ‛Ali reveals paternal influence in his meticulous rendering of ornamental patterns and details. As he was a junior artist at the time of the royal Shāhnāma of c. 1525–35 (dispersed, see Dickson and Welch), his contribution to this was limited. Only two miniatures (fols 135v and 568r; priv. col. and New York, Met., respectively; see 1979–80 exh. cat., nos 20 and 33) are attributed to him, and possibly passages in other works by Sultan Muhammad and Aqa Mirak. By the time of the illustration of the Khamsa (‘Five poems’) of Nizami of 1539–42 (London, BL, Or. MS. 2265), Mir Sayyid ‛Ali was a first-rank Safavid court artist, painting four (or possibly five) miniatures, three (or possibly four) of which were subsequently removed from the manuscript (Cambridge, MA, Sackler Mus., 1958.75 and 1958.76; Edinburgh, Royal Mus. Scotland, ...

Article

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...

Article

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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Bihzad  

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...

Article

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. ...

Article

Nabil Saidi

[Shaykh Ḥamdullah ibn Muṣṭafā Dede]

(b Amasya, 1436; d Istanbul, 1520).

Ottoman calligrapher. His father, a Suhrawardi shaykh, emigrated from Bukhara to Amasya where Hamdullah studied calligraphy under Khayr al-Din Mar‛ashi. Hamdullah’s early style imitated that of Yaqut al-Musta‛simi and his pupil ‛Abdallah Sayrafi. While governor of Amasya, the future sultan Bayezid II (reg 1481–1512) studied with Hamdullah, and when the prince became sultan he brought Hamdullah to the imperial palace in Istanbul. Bayezid reportedly admired Hamdullah so greatly that the sultan held the inkwell while the master worked. At the beginning of the reign of Selim I (reg 1512–20), Hamdullah was forced to leave Istanbul because of political intrigue in the palace and took refuge in his estate at Alemda. He died shortly after returning to Istanbul at the beginning of the reign of Süleyman (reg 1520–66) and was buried in Üsküdar.

Hamdullah adapted the six scripts canonized by Yaqut and refined the dīvānī script used in the Ottoman chancelleries for official documents (...

Article

Wheeler M. Thackston

[Mīr ‛Alī Ḥusaynī Haravī]

(b Herat, c. 1476; d Bukhara, 1543).

Persian calligrapher. Mir ‛Ali worked in Herat and Mashhad under the Timurids and continued working in Herat after the Safavid conquest in 1506. When the Uzbeks occupied the city in 1529 he was taken to Bukhara, where he remained until his death. A master of nasta‛līq (a rhythmic curvilinear script), Mir ‛Ali designed architectural inscriptions and penned manuscripts and calligraphic specimens (Pers. qi ṭ‛a) in which Persian quatrains are written on the diagonal. He used a thick line, often omitting diacritical marks and never adding the stroke to distinguish the letter gāf from kāf. During Mir ‛Ali’s lifetime his calligraphy was popular but not universally admired. The Ottoman chronicler Mustafa ‛Ali commented with astonishment that in his day (late 16th century) a specimen of Mir ‛Ali’s calligraphy could command up to five or six thousand akçes, while a first-rate specimen by Sultan ‛Ali Mashhadi brought no more than four or five thousand. Nonetheless Mir ‛Ali’s calligraphy, if lacking some of the discipline and formality of Sultan ‛Ali’s hand, became the model of ...

Article

Philippa Vaughan

[Haribas]

(fl c. 1580s–1602).

Indian miniature painter. His only known attributed work is in the Jog-bashisht (1602; Dublin, Chester Beatty Lib., Ind. MS. 5), the Persian translation of a Sanskrit text on Vedanta philosophy. The manuscript has 41 illustrations produced at Allahabad under the patronage of Prince Salim (later the Mughal emperor Jahangir, reg 1605–27). However, Haribans began his career in the 1580s in the studio of Akbar (reg 1556–1605), for he is named 16th of the 17 painters listed in order of seniority in the Āyin-i Akbarī, a contemporary account of Akbar’s administration as it was c. 1590.

The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court (exh. cat. by M. C. Beach; Washington, DC, Freer, 1981) The Art of the Book in India (exh. cat. by J. P. Losty; London, BL, 1982) M. C. Beach: Early Mughal Painting (Cambridge, MA, 1987) L. Y. Leach: Mughal and Other Indian Paintings from the Chester Beatty Library...

Article

[Mīr ‛Imād; ‛Imād al-Ḥasanī]

(b ?1554; d Isfahan, 1615).

Persian calligrapher. He studied calligraphy with Mulla Muhammad Tabrizi and then travelled extensively, visiting Anatolia, the Hijaz and Khurasan, where he served Farhad Khan Qaramanlu, commander-in-chief of the Safavid shah ‛Abbas I. After Farhad Khan’s death in 1598, Mir ‛Imad moved to Qazvin and the following year settled in Isfahan, where he became one of the most famous masters of nasta‛līq script at the court of ‛Abbas (see Islamic art, §III, 2(iv)(b)). Mir ‛Imad vied for the monarch’s favour with the calligrapher ‛Ali Riza, who is said to have arranged his rival’s assassination; he was buried in the mosque of Maqsud Beg. Mir ‛Imad continued the tradition of Mir ‛Ali Husayni Haravi and penned many books, epistles and single folios with Persian quatrains written on the diagonal. Specimens of his work are included in the Leningrad Album (St Petersburg, Acad. Sci., Inst. Orient. Stud., E/14) and other albums in Tehran (Royal Lib.), Paris (Bib. N.) and Istanbul (U. Lib.)....

Article

Nabil Saidi

[Aḥmad Qarāḥiṣārī]

(b Afyonkarahisar, 1469; d Istanbul, 1556).

Ottoman calligrapher. A pupil of Şeyh Hamdullah, he studied with Asadullah al-Kirmani and became the most famous calligrapher during the reign of the Ottoman sultan Süleyman, when he was given the title Shams al-Din (‘Sun of religion’). Ahmad took the six scripts canonized by Yaqut al-Musta‛simi as models, and perfected thuluth and tawqī‛ (see Islamic art, §III, 2(iii)(c)). Ahmad is known for his use of chain script (Arab. musalsal), in which the letters are joined as though the pen had never been lifted from the page. The frontispiece to a collection of religious texts (Istanbul, Mus. Turk. & Islam. A., 1443, fols 1r–2v) shows how he combined decorative and bold elements to produce a unique and attractive style. In addition to manuscripts of the Koran and albums of calligraphic exercises (e.g. 1552–3; Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., A. 3654), Ahmad designed architectural inscriptions, such as the circular panels around the mihrab and the frieze around the dome of the Süleymaniye Mosque. Unlike Hamdullah, Ahmad had few pupils. The most famous was his adopted son, ...

Article

Michael Curschmann

The medieval term mappa mundi (also forma mundi, historia/istoire) covers a broad array of maps of the world of which roughly 1100 survive. These have resisted systematic classification, but the clearly dominant type is one that aims at comprehensively symbolistic representation. Its early, schematic form is a disc composed of three continents surrounded and separated from one another by water (“T-O Map”) and associated with the three sons of Noah: Asia (Shem) occupies all of the upper half, Europe (Japhet) to the left and Africa (Ham) to the right share the lower half. Quadripartite cartographic schemes included the antipodes as a fourth continent, but the tripartite model was adopted by the large majority of the more developed world maps in use from the 11th century on and—with important variations—well into the Renaissance. While details were added as available space permitted, the Mediterranean continued to serve as the vertical axis and, with diminishing clarity, the rivers Don and Nile as the horizontal one. The map also continues to be ‘oriented’ towards Asia, where paradise sits at the very top. A circular ocean forms the perimeter and not infrequently the city of Jerusalem constitutes its centre....

Article

Wheeler M. Thackston

[Sulṭān ‛Alī ibn Muḥammad ibn al-Mashhadī]

(b Mashhad; fl 1453–1519; d Mashhad, 1520).

Persian calligrapher. Orphaned at an early age, he was an autodidact and was later trained by Azhar (fl 1421–72), one of the students of Ja‛far, or by one of Azhar’s students. From 1470 to 1506 Sultan ‛Ali worked at the Timurid court in Herat for the major bibliophiles of the time, Sultan Husayn (see Timurid family §II, (8)) and ‛Alishir Nava’i. Sultan ‛Ali designed architectural inscriptions, such as the one (1477–8) on the marble platform for the tombstones of Sultan Husayn’s ancestors erected in the shrine complex at Gazur Gah outside Herat. He also calligraphed some of the finest Persian and Turkish manuscripts produced for the Timurid court, such as a copy of ‛Attar’s Manṭiq al-ṭayr (‘Conference of the birds’; 1483; New York, Met., MS. 63.210) and a copy of Sa‛di’s Būstān (‘Orchard’; 1488; Cairo, N. Lib., Adab Farsi 908). Sultan ‛Ali’s calligraphy, which is more fluid and spacious than that of Ja‛far, is the classic statement of the eastern, or Khurasani, style of ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Esin Atil

[Mehmed-i Siyah; Kara Mehmed Çelebi]

(fl 1545–66).

Ottoman illuminator. The greatest student of Şahkulu, Kara Memi developed a new naturalistic style that quickly spread to other court arts including textiles, rugs, ceramics and tiles and survived for many centuries. He is one of the few artists employed in the imperial Ottoman painting studio under Süleyman (reg 1520–66) whose name is recorded in archival documents and extant works. First mentioned on a payroll register dated 1545, Kara Memi rose quickly so that by the early 1550s his wages for Koran illumination were the highest given to any artist working on manuscripts commissioned by the Süleymaniye Mosque; by 1557–8 he was head painter (Ott. nakkaşbaşı). A librarian’s note on the flyleaf of a Koran manuscript transcribed by ‛Abdallah Sayrafi in 1344–5 and refurbished for the Ottoman grand vizier Rüstem Pasha in the mid-1550s (Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., E.H. 49) credits Kara Memi with the illumination, and he signed the illumination in a spectacular manuscript of the ...

Article

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 ...

Article

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...