Persian Miniature Painting: Uzbek Khan’s Portrait
Persian Miniature Painting: Uzbek Khan’s Portrait by Shaykh Muhammad 1557
Uzbek Khan’s Portrait by Shaykh Muhammad 1557
The Officer’s Portrait
Plate 64. Persia, Mid 16th century, Boston Museum of Fine Arts
La Miniature En Orient by Ernst Kuhnel 1925
A separate miniature formerly in the Goloubew Collection. The identity of this historic personage is still left to be established.Attribution to Sultan Muhammad or to Mohammadi is still uncertain
Translator’s Note: Kuhnel tentatively attributed this painting to Sultan Muhammad or to Ustad (the master) Mohammadi. This is no longer viewed as appropriate and scholars such as Stuart Cary Welch suggests that Shaykh Muhammad is a more appropriate attribution.1. Mid sixteenth century is still appropriate but we now date these miniatures to 1557 because that is when Shaykh Muhammad would have met with a group of Uzbek Khans in Mashad on their way to Tahmasp’s court in Qazvin.
This is a rather sympathetic view of an Uzbek nobleman. This is noteworthy since the Uzbeks and Safavis are seen as enemies. It is important to remember that border relations between the Uzbeks and the Safavis were never as cut and dried as most art books would have us believe.
Detail – The Officer’s Portrait I am struck by the dichotomy of the sophistication of the weapons and sash as opposed to the naïveté of the hands.
Ozbek Warlord by Shaykh Muhammad, Mashad Khorasan, 1557.
Here we can see a far less sympathetic picture of an Uzbek nobleman that Soudavar attributes to Shaykh Muhammad in 1557. Despite the shift in tone the similarities point to the attribution of these pictures to the same hand.
A Prisoner, a page from the Album of the Amir of Bukhara.
Here we see a far more typical portrayal of an Uzbek Nobleman. Ernst Grube drew attention to the ring on the mans thumb to suggest that this nobleman was a warrior.
In a discussion of “The Officer’s Portrait” Welch suggested that the forks in the tree symbolize the threat of imprisonment as we see here with the cangue or palahang.
It is interesting to note that in all three miniatures the Uzbek wears a higher heal than would be either stylish or even appropriate to Persia at that time. Since I do not attribute all of these to the same hand then I must assume that the raiment down even to even the shoes is authentic to what a noble Uzbek was bearing at the time. I should note that the other two were painted in Safavi Persia and this was woven in Bukhara 5. further confirming that.