Arts of the Book: Illustrated Texts, Miniatures
A Gathering Of Dervishes
Safavid, late 16th century CE
Materials and technique
Ink and watercolour on paper
38.5 x 28.5 cm
Drawings intended for inclusion in albums became increasingly popular in the second half of the sixteenth century. Less expensive to produce than paintings or illustrated manuscripts, drawings could be afforded by a broader market than simply the court. As a result, artists expanded their choice of subject matter to include dervishes, nomads, and working people. This scene depicts six dervishes in varying states of dizziness and collapse after whirling to induce a mystical state. Two bearded figures stand with the aid of young novices, while two others are seated on the ground. At the lower left, a youth holds a book, perhaps of poetry, while at the right, another beats his tambourine. The technique of drawing with the addition of touches of colour was practised in this period by Muhammadi of Herat, an artist with wide influence in the last quarter of the sixteenth century. Although this work cannot be attributed to him, the jackdaws in the tree, the subject of dervishes, and the technique all derive from his works. The empty rectangles at the upper right and lower left suggest that this was an illustration to a text, though it is more likely that these were added long after the drawing had been completed.
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