Tenture (pardeh) aux lions et a? l’arbre de vie re?alise?e sur l’ordre de Nasir al-Din Shah Qajar

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30000 - 50000 EUR
Tenture (pardeh) aux lions et a? l’arbre de vie re?alise?e sur l’ordre de Nasir al-Din Shah Qajar
Hajji ʿAbd al-Wahhâb ibn Ḥâjî Mullâ Ahmad ibn Abû Tâlib Isfahânî; workshop of Hâjî Mullâ Ahmad ibn Hâjî Abû Tâlib, Iran, Isfahan, Qajar art, c. 1880-1892 Printed and painted cotton (qalamkār), with central decoration of tree of life, with foliage and roots decorated with calligraphic compositions, flanked by two calligraphic lions, the borders with motifs of seedlings and garlands of flowers, boteh, poly-lobed niches housing vases, and chevrons punctuated with flowering stems, on the canvas or on red, yellow, or blue painted backgrounds. The patron Nasir al-Din Shah Qajar (r. 1848-1896) mentioned in the center, between two vases on a blue background; the two squares in the spandrels at the bottom give the signature of Hajji ʿAbd al-Wahhāb ibn Ḥājī Mullā Aḥmad ibn Abū Ṭālib Iṣfahānī ; a small polylobed cartouche at lower right indicates the workshop of Ḥājī Mullā Aḥmad ibn Ḥājī Abū Ṭālib. 394 x 245 cm Housed in a semicircular niche, the main decoration is largely worked in calamus. The tree of life that occupies its center is flanked by two calligraphic compositions in the form of a lion, an animal that in Iran participates in a double symbolism: political, as it is an emblem of dynastic power; religious, as it is also the "Lion of God," associated with ʿAli, cousin and son-in-law of the prophet, the first of the Shi'ite imams. These two mirrored compositions contain the verses of the Nad-i ʿAli; this prayer, which is very common on calligraphic lions, also appears on many Qajar-era art objects (Ekhtiar, M., Parikh, R., Power and Piety: Islamic Talismans on the Battlefield. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2016). The flowers unfurled on the tree's branches and roots, also calligrams, house the bismillah and the names of the Shi'a Imams. The inscription framing the two vases of flowers on a blue background mentions the name and titles of the patron, Nasir al-Din Shah Qajar (r. 1848-1896). On either side are addresses to Imam Reza (summoned under his title of gharib "the Stranger"), echoing the greetings inscribed in the upper corners of the hanging (al-salām ʿalayk yā Imām Riḍā). This connection to the eighth of the twelve Shi'i imams is confirmed by reading two of the quatrains (rubāʿī) distributed in the three registers of calligraphic cartouches: one praises him (second register), the other dedicates the hanging to him (third register). The first of these poems was composed by Nasir al-Din Shah himself. It appears, with some variations, in most editions of the Divan-i kamil-i ash'ar-i Nasir al-Din Shah Qajar, as well as on a page calligraphed by the master Fath Allah Afshar (1872-73-1918) (preserved in the Mahfouzi Museum, Tehran). The context of the composition of these verses, as well as their destination, is a matter of debate. It is accepted that this rubaʿi was written during one of Nasir al-Din's pilgrimages to Iran and Iraq, in honor of a holy place that would have particularly amazed the shah. One view is that the poem was addressed to Imam 'Ali and composed during the ruler's first trip to the holy city of Najaf in March 1862 (Ramadan 1287) (see Hasan Gul-Muhammadi (ed), Divan-i kamil-i ash'ar-i Nasir al-Din Shah Qajar, Tehran: 'Elm, 1390, p. 129) - although there is no source to support this view, this version currently dominates reception of the poem. A second hypothesis, equally unsourced, is that it was composed in the same year, but during his visit to the Hussain shrine in Karbala. A third hypothesis, which raises the most doubts among commentators, refers to Mashhad and the shrine of Imam Reza, which Nasir al-Din visited twice, in June 1867 (Safar 1284), and in August 1883 (Shawwal 1300). The presence of this poem on our hanging, explicitly dedicated to Imam Reza, would thus reinforce this last hypothesis. A pardeh with a similar composition and iconography, dated 1885, is in the prestigious Parviz Tanavoli collection (Parviz Tanavoli and the Lions of Iran, 2017, p. 403). In addition to their composition and iconography, the two qalamkar also have in common that they are the work of the same master, ʿAbd al-Wahhab ibn Hajji Mullah Aḥmad ibn Abu Talib Isfahani, and of the same workshop, that of ʿAbd al-Wahhab's father, Hajji Mullah Ahmad ibn Abu Talib. Two other pardeh with similar tree-of-life and lion decoration are known to us. Both are among the possessions of the Sadat Akhavi hussainiya in Tehran, which preserves and displays a set of Qajar-era devotional qalamkar during religious ceremonies. This hussainiya was built at the beginning of the 19th century, in an outbuilding of the Sadat Akhavi's house, a family presen
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