Arts of the Book: Illustrated Texts, Miniatures
Musician Playing A Tar
Qajar, 20th century CE
Materials and technique
Ink and opaque watercolour on paper
10 x 12 cm
This watercolour drawing depicts a Qajar musician playing the tar, a long-necked string instrument resembling the lute that is believed to have originated in Sasanian Iran (224 BCE-642 CE). The instrument developed into diverse forms within the cultures of the Middle East, Caucasus, Central Asia and India, the variations on its name - tar is Persian for “string” - usually indicating the number of strings appearing on the instrument; the dutar thus indicated two (du) strings, while the sitar, associated with India, indicated three (sih). The presence of the tar in this drawing emphasizes the importance and abundance of music at the Iranian court. Its use by musicians of the Qajar period might also reflect the forging of a connection to the pre-Islamic Iranian kings by the Qajars. In a larger sense, therefore, although the drawing itself is quite modest, both music and its representation in this image inevitably hint at a dynastic ideology that sought to legitimize Qajar rule.
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