recto © 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
Text (recto and verso), folio 76r from a Divan (collected works) of Hafiz, right-hand side of a bifolo.
Other Titles
Series/Book Title: Divan of Hafiz
Work Type
manuscript folio
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Tabriz
Safavid period
Physical Descriptions
Ink, color and gold on paper
folio: 28.9 x 18 cm (11 3/8 x 7 1/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: `amal-i Shaykh Zada (done by Shaykh Zada)
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, Wonders of the Age: Masterpieces of Early Safavid Painting, 1501-1576, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1979)

Exhibition History

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

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Google Art Project

Related Works

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