Manuscript Of A Divan Of Hafiz
front cover with flap closed © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
1964.149
People
Cover attributed to Sultan Muhammad, Persian ( 16th century)
Title
Manuscript of a Divan of Hafiz
Classification
Manuscripts
Work Type
manuscript
Date
c. 1530
Places
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Tabriz
Period
Safavid period
Culture
Persian
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper; binding: lacquer on paper with leather
Dimensions
29.21 x 19.05 x 3.5 cm (11 1/2 x 7 3/16 x 1 3/8 in.)
Provenance
Mr. and Mrs. Stuart Cary Welch, Jr., Contoocook, NH, (by 1964), gift; to Fogg Art Museum, 1964.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Stuart C. Welch, Jr.
Accession Year
1964
Object Number
1964.149
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
Descriptions
Description
The enormous wealth and attention directed to the arts of the book in sixteenth-century Iran can be seen in this elaborate book binding and the elaborate illustrated pages, which were removed long ago from its text block. A heightened interest in illustrations, particularly of poetic texts, drove the development of a distinctive art form popularly known as Persian miniature painting. In Islamic books, figural representation had usually been confined to the inside of a manuscript, where it could be enjoyed privately. As this beautiful book cover demonstrates, artists in the early Safavid period pushed figural imagery to the outside as well.

Here Safavid courtiers—recognizable by the red baton of their turbans—enjoy refreshments, while winged angels carry covered trays. The cover is executed in a medium known as Persian lacquer, an extension of the miniature-painting technique of opaque watercolor and gold on a paper substrate. The painted cover was completed with a coating of clear lacquer.

This manuscript and the lacquer binding was created in the early sixteenth century for the Safavid prince and bibliophile Sam Mirza, brother of Shah Tahmasp (r. 1524–76), the dynasty’s second ruler.


Publication History

Laurence Binyon and J. V. S. Wilkinson, Persian Miniature Painting: Including a Critical and Descriptive Catalogue of the Miniatures Exhibited at Burlington House January-March, 1931, exh. cat., Oxford University Press (NY) and Oxford University Press (UK) (London, England, 1933), page 128

Arthur Upham Pope and Phyllis Ackerman, A Survey of Persian Art From Prehistoric Times to the Present, Soroush Press (Tehran, Iran, 1977), page 972, 977

Kristin A. Mortimer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums/Abbeville Press (Cambridge, MA; New York, NY, 1985), page 83/figure 88

Studies In Islamic and Later Indian Art From the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2002), page 11 & 12/figure 3 & 4

Jon Thompson, ed., Hunt for Paradise: Court Arts of Iran, 1501 - 1576, exh. cat., Skira (New York, 2003), p 185, fig 7.1

Selseleh: Artistic Lineages in Persian Painting, Hadeeth ad-Dar (Kuwait, 2014), Vol. 28, pp. 12-17, fig. 1

Exhibition History

The Heavenly Court: Persian Poetry and Painting, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 02/09/1985 - 03/31/1985

Early Safavid Painting 1501 - 1576, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 02/21/1987 - 04/12/1987

Geometry of the Spirit: Islamic Illumination and Calligraphy, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 04/30/1988 - 06/26/1988

Paintings for Princes: The Art of the Book in Islam, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/27/1990 - 03/25/1990

Eyes to the East: Indian, Persian, and Turkish Art Given by Harvard Graduates, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/22/1990 - 11/25/1990

Calligraphy and the Arts of the Book, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/25/1993 - 01/30/1994

Subjects and Contexts

Artstor Digital Library

Google Art Project

Related Works
Verification Level

3 - Good. Object is well described and information is vetted