Art of the Islamic world 640 to now
- Arts of the Islamic world: the later period
- Introduction to the court carpets of the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal empires
- Muradiye Mosque
- Ottoman prayer carpet with triple-arch design
- Mimar Sinan, Şehzade Mosque
- Sinan, Süleymaniye Mosque
- Mimar Sinan, Mosque of Selim II, Edirne
- Sinan, Rüstem Pasha Mosque
- Hagia Sophia as a mosque
- The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii)
- Spherical Hanging Ornament (Iznik)
- Iznik ewer
- Tughra (Official Signature) of Sultan Süleiman the Magnificent from Istanbul
- Topkapı Palace tiles
- Qa'a: The Damascus room
- The Damascus Room at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Conserving the Damascus Room at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Photograph of Abdülhamid II
- Timur’s entry into Samarkand, page from the Zafarnama
- The Safavids, an introduction
- The Ardabil Carpet
- Ardabil Carpet
- The Court of Gayumars
- Paradise in miniature, The Court of Kayumars — part 1
- Paradise in miniature, The Court of Kayumars — part 2
- Wine bearers in landscape, a Safavid textile
- Riza-yi 'Abbasi, portrait of a young page reading
- Riza-yi ʿAbbasi, Seated calligrapher
- Mir Afzal of Tun, a reclining woman and her lapdog
- The Ardashirnama: a Judeo-Persian manuscript
- Divination Bowl
- The Mughal painting tradition: an introduction
- Illustration from the Akbarnama
- The Taj Mahal
- Bichitr, Jahangir Preferring a Sufi Shaikh to Kings
- Shah 'Abbas – Ruling an empire
- Shah 'Abbas – the image of a ruler
- Coins of faith and power at the British Museum
- Two portraits, two views
- Khusraw Discovers Shirin Bathing
Shah 'Abbas was restless, decisive, ruthless and intelligent. Within two years of usurping the throne from his father, he ordered the assassination of the guardian who had helped him. He would also kill, or blind, three of his five sons so that they would not overthrow him, as he had overthrown his father. Yet despite his ruthlessness, he mixed with his subjects and enjoyed feasting and elaborate entertainments.
The character of the Shah contains some contradictions; for instance, his fiery temper, his imperiousness, his majesty and regal splendor are matched by his mildness, leniency, his ascetic way of life, and his informality. He is equally at home on the dervish’s mat and the royal throne. (Iskandar Munshi Beg, Safavid biographer, 1629)
Unlike Europe, where the image of a monarch would appear on coins and in sculpture in public places, the only portraits of Shah 'Abbas were either produced by non-Iranian artists or for privately-owned albums. Calligraphy (which means beautiful writing) on coins and buildings was the main method by which he could display his name and titles to his subjects.
Shah 'Abbas dramatically increased the silk trade with Europe to rebuild the Iranian economy after it had nearly collapsed under the disastrous rule of his father. Gold and silver coins received from Europe were melted down and re-struck as Iranian coins, which were then used to buy goods from India.
He was also keen to create a lasting visual style for his empire that would be associated with him rather than the rulers who came before him. As well as new buildings in Isfahan, Shah 'Abbas also used architecture to promote Shi'ism as the state religion of Iran, and in the process undertook skillful acts of public relations to promote an image of piety to his subjects. He renovated Shi'i shrines and presented them with collections of precious items.
Charity is one of the five Pillars of Islam and public donations to shrines are particularly pious. These waqf (charitable donations) were an important aspect of Shah 'Abbas’s reign and in 1608 he announced a major donation to the Ardabil Shrine. The donation consisted of Chinese porcelains, Persian poetic and historical manuscripts, jades, and other precious objects. He made similar gifts to shrines at Qum and Mashhad.
The Shrine of Imam Riza contains the tomb of 'Ali ibn Musa al-Riza—the eighth Shi'i Imam, and a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad— who died suddenly in 818 in a village near the present-day city of Mashhad (in northeast Iran). Imam Riza was thought to have been poisoned and thus martyred. ‘Mashhad’ means place of witness or place of martyrdom. He is the only Shi'i Imam buried in Iran and therefore his tomb is hugely important to Shi'i Iranians. Shah 'Abbas first visited the shrine as shah in 1598.
During most of Shah 'Abbas’s reign, the Ottoman Turks controlled the popular pilgrimage sites in Iraq and Mecca and Medina. Shah 'Abbas promoted Mashhad as an alternative pilgrimage site, advancing the idea that visiting Mashhad provided the same spiritual benefits as going on the hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). A number of drawings of aged figures from this period exist and suggest a new awareness of and participation in pilgrimage during the rule of Shah 'Abbas I.
The hunched figure in this drawing, depicted alone in a wasteland, evokes the solitude and hardship experienced by those who travelled long distances on foot to pray at the shrine of Imam Riza in Mashhad, Iran during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Despite his age, as illustrated by his posture, long beard and wrinkled brow, his eyes are focused on a point beyond the edge of the picture.
During the 1590s a style of drawing developed that emphasized the calligraphic treatment of line, and in this small image the anonymous artist has varied the thickness of contour lines to suggest volume and the movement of drapery. Despite the small size of the picture, the artist has incorporated a range of tints, from the red rocks in the background to the two tones of tan for the robe and shawl and subtle white highlights on the turban.
© Trustees of the British Museum
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- How do the people that write this know this happened?(2 votes)
- From the author:They study. They go to college and then graduate school and they keep reading and doing research.(4 votes)
- Why is 'Ali ibn Musa al-Riza—the eighth Shi'i Imam, the only Shi'i Imam buried in Iran ?(4 votes)
- The Shi'i Imams spent nearly all of their time in modern-day Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and so were almost all buried near where they died in different places in Iraq and Saudi Arabia.(2 votes)