Arts of the Book: Illustrated Texts, Miniatures
A Youth Playing A Stringed Instrument
Safavid, late 16th century CE?
Materials and technique
Opaque watercolour and gold on paper
Page 34.7 x 23 cm; Image 14.9 x 7.6 cm
This album folio features a portrait of a youth playing a tar, one of the most important classical Persian instruments. A tar (‘string’ in Persian) is a long-necked lute played in Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia and Caucasus regions. It has a characteristic double-bowl shape and is usually carved from mulberry wood and covered with a lambskin membrane on top. This tar has five strings, although modern ones have six strings. The melodies performed on tar were thought to have a calming effect on people. The musician in this portrait may be a dervish, with his tall conical hat, and he may have been part of a wandering troupe of musicians.
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