Wood and Lacquer
Zand or Qajar, 18th-19th century
Zand and Qajar
Materials and technique
Wood, painted and varnished
length 92 cm
The archer’s bow was a symbol of kingship as well as a tool of the hunt. This elaborate lacquer bow has been painted and covered by a clear sandarac-based varnish that protects the painting and imparts luminescence. Persian literary sources from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries refer to the varnish as rawghan-i kaman, or bow gloss. This reference, coupled with the fascinating fact that the Timurid Sultan Husayn’s keeper of books (kitabdar) and manager of manuscript production Mirak Naqqash (d. after 1507) produced bows and came from a family of Herati bow-makers, has led Stanley to suggest that the earliest lacquer book covers may have been produced by him using bow gloss (Stanley in Thompson and Canby 2003, p. 189).
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