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A Poet or Calligrapher

Although the identity of the sitter is unknown, he is probably a poet, most likely Firdawsi (940–1020), based on evidence contained within the miniature. The seated figure is pointing to a book and surrounded by writing tools and implements suggestive of his occupation as a man of letters; more revealing clues are found in the lines of poetry inscribed in the blue margin in the upper left. The text is from Firdawsi’s Shahnama (Book of Kings), a celebrated epic poem that traces the history of the Persian Empire from the mythic past to the seventh century. This painting most likely dates from the late sixteenth to early seventeenth century as its style closely resembles other Mughal paintings of the period, particularly those produced in Ahmadabad.

Indian, Mughal Dynasty
A Poet or Calligrapher
ca. 1570–1610
Tempera, ink, and gold on paper
7 7/8 x 4 ¼ in. (20 x 10.79 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 62.166