Arts of the Book: Illustrated Texts, Miniatures
A Dragon In A Landscape
Safavid, circa 1610 CE
Materials and technique
Ink, light watercolour and gold on paper, mounted on a page from a muraqqa
23.7 x 36 cm
A large, apparently winged, dragon scampers up a sloping hill while breathing clouds of fire behind him to ward off anyone in pursuit. The flames form a series of thick clusters, taking on the appearance of cloud bands common in drawings and paintings of the Islamic world, especially in Iran. The curving, rippled body of the dragon, formed from a series of short, calligraphic strokes, initiates a circular movement that extends through the flames of fire breathed through the dragon’s mouth.This “looser” calligraphic manner of draughtsmanship, consisting of several breaks in the lines formed by a brush or pen, recalls the later compositions of Sadiqi Beg, who may have been influenced by the even more elegant style of his contemporary, Riza ‛Abbasi. While line serves as an anchoring element in some drawings, here it creates a dynamic atmosphere of movement and urgency appropriate to the terrifying actions of the beast.
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