Published Catalogue Text: In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art , written 2013
Aqa Riza (Riza ʿAbbasi)
Folio from an album
Iran, Safavid period, c. 1630
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Folio: 32.3 × 20.4 cm (12 11/16 × 8 1/16 in.)
Published: Sotheby’s 1976, lot 30; Soudavar 1992, 263, fig. 43; McWilliams 2002a, 13, fig. 6A; Harvard University Art Museums 2003, 20; McWilliams 2004, 7, fig. 9; Tan 2010, 13–14.
A youthful dervish, his clothing rendered in uniformly dark hues of cool green, purple, and brown that contrast with the warm pink of his face and hands, is posed against a ground of ivory-colored paper, unpainted save for a common repertoire of golden landscape elements. He wears a plumed wool cap, carries a staff over his shoulder, and offers a sprig of yellow, red, and gray leaves to a companion beyond the picture frame. An inscription that reads, raqm/
raqam-i kamīna Riżā-yi ʿAbbāsī (work of the humble Riza ʿAbbasi)—the customary wording of the artist’s signed works—appears at the lower left. Although raqm or raqam ordinarily means “writing” or “figuring,” here it makes more sense translated as “work” or “design.” Riza’s frequent use of this term in his signatures suggests a conceptual blurring of the boundaries between the arts of writing and of depicting and, in addition, may represent a claim of entitlement to the high status accorded to calligraphers.
David J. Roxburgh
 For comparative materials, see Soudavar 1992, 263, figs. 42, 44; 292, cat. 118.