© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Gathered on this wall are components from a single luxurious manuscript created in Iran early in the reign of the Safavid dynasty. The intricately illuminated border in the double page above frames the opening poem of the book, which contains the collected works of Hafiz (c. 1315–90), one of the greatest lyric poets of classical Persian literature.

The Safavids united the eastern and western halves of Iran under one rule and, in royal scriptoria, brought together artists from these regions who eventually synthesized the two distinctive schools of painting. Both styles are discernible in this manuscript. Shaykh Zada (active 1510–50), who signed Incident in a Mosque, trained at the Timurid court in Herat to the east. With balanced composition, logical spatial layout, and precisely ordered decoration, this painting continues late Timurid traditions. By contrast, the undulating rhythms and roiling clouds of the two paintings at right reflect the more exuberant style that had developed at the Turkman courts in western Iran.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Signed by Shaykh Zada, Persian (active 1st half of 16th century)
Incident in a Mosque (painting, recto; text, verso), folio 77r from a Divan (collected works) of Hafiz, left-hand side of a double page.
Other Titles
Series/Book Title: Divan of Hafiz
Work Type
manuscript folio
c. 1530
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Tabriz
Safavid period
Physical Descriptions
Ink, opaque watercolor, gold and silver on paper
folio: 29 x 18.2 cm (11 7/16 x 7 3/16 in.)
Stuart Cary Welch, Jr., Contootook, NH, (by 1999), gift; to Harvard University Art Museums, 1999.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Stuart Cary Welch, Jr.
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Publication History

Stuart Cary Welch, Persian Painting: Five Royal Safavid Manuscripts of the Sixteenth Century, George Braziller (New York, 1976), pp 64, 65/ plate 16

Basil Gray, Persian Painting, Skira (New York, NY, 1977)

Michele de Angelis and Thomas W. Lentz, Architecture in Islamic Painting: Permanent and Impermanent Worlds, brochure, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, Mass, 1982)

A. M. Kevorkian and J.P. Sicre, Les Jardins du desir: Sept siecles de peinture persane, Phebus (Paris, France, 1983), pp138

Johann Christoph Burgel, ed., Orientalisches Mittelalter: Reflections on angels past and present and true stories of how they touch our lives, Academic Publishing Company (Wiesbaden, 1990), P. 273

James Cuno, ed., A Decade of Collecting: Recent Acquisitions by the Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, Spring 2000), pp. 31-32

Michael Cook, Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong in Islamic Thought, Cambridge University Press (U.K.) (Cambridge, England, 2000), Cover

Afghanistan: une histoire millenaire, exh. cat., Fundació la Caixa (Paris, France, 2002), page 57, 178/figure 147

Michael Cook, Forbidding Wrong in Islam, Cambridge University Press (U.K.) (Cambridge, UK, 2003), Cover

Farid al-Din Attar, Layli Anvar, and Michael Barry, Le Cantique des Oiseaux: illustré par la peinture en Islam d’orient, Diane de Selliers (Paris, 2012), p. 266, ill. p. 267.

Exhibition History

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

32Q: 2550 Islamic, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/01/2014 - 05/14/2015

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

Related Works

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu