top Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Najaf `Ali
Pen Box with Elderly Saint and Riverine Landscapes
Artists' Tools
Work Type
pen box
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Isfahan
Qajar period
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Opaque watercolor, gold-colored pigments, and lacquer on pasteboard
3.3 × 3.8 × 22.2 cm (1 5/16 × 1 1/2 × 8 3/4 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription:
    يا شاه نجف ۱۲۶۹

    O Lord of Najaf! 1852-53
Ezzat-Malek Soudavar, Geneva, Switzerland (by 2014), by descent; to her son Abolala Soudavar, Houston, Texas (2014), gift; to Harvard Art Museums, 2014.

Ezzat-Malek Soudavar (1913-2014) formed this collection over a period of sixty years. She purchased the works of art on the international art market.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of A. Soudavar in memory of his mother Ezzat-Malek Soudavar
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Cover and sliding compartment with rounded ends.The top is decorated in vertical format with three cartouches. In the center, an elderly figure, perhaps a saint, with his eyes closed, clasps his hands; in the background is a white church with two domes. In the lower cartouche, a donkey bearing packs passes between buildings in the middle ground, and a waterwheel holds the foreground. The upper cartouche features water fowl and a white building. The sides are similarly composed, with a vignette of dervishes or holy men in the center and rural scenes at the left and right. The base and sliding compartment are decorated with gold arabesque on a red background.
Publication History

Massumeh Farhad and Mary McWilliams, ed., A Collector’s Passion: Ezzat-Malek Soudavar and Persian Lacquer, Harvard Art Museums and Freer/Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution (Cambridge, MA/Washington, D.C., 2017), p. 129, cat. 89

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at