Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Album of Fingernail Artwork
Work Type
19th century
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran
Qajar period
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Paper; leather binding
20 x 13.5 cm (7 7/8 x 5 5/16 in.)
Ezzat-Malek Soudavar, Geneva, Switzerland (by 2014), by descent; to her son Abolala Soudavar, Houston, Texas (2014), loan; to Harvard Art Museums, 2015.

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, Loan from A. Soudavar in memory of his mother Ezzat-Malek Soudavar
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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This codex-format album consists of 19 relief images created by the pressure of the artist’s fingernail on paper (san`at-i nākhun). Specimens include calligraphic, floral, and figural compositions. Many of the pages form double-page spreads, as indicated in list of folios below.
1 Pink flyleaf, recto: owner’s inscription with date 1284 H / 1867-68 CE

2 Pink flyleaf (blank)

3 verso: Couplet of Persian poetry written diagonally in nasta`liq script
Forms double page with 4 recto

4 recto: Persian Poetry written in shikasta script
Forms double page with 3 verso

5 verso: Qur’an 25:35 (Aya al-Nur), beginning to middle of verse
Forms double page with 6 recto

6 recto: Pious Text in Arabic
Forms double page with 5 verso

7 recto: Undeciphered text in highly stylized script

8 verso: Vase with Flowers

9 verso: Qajar Youth Kneeling with Waterpipe
Forms double page with 10 recto

10 recto: Qajar Man with Seated Against Cushion
Forms double page with 9 verso

11 verso: Woman in European Garments
Forms double page with 12 recto

12 recto: Man in European Garments
Forms double page with 11 verso

13 verso: Rooster
Forms double page with 14 recto

14 recto: Phoenix
Forms double page with 13 verso

15 recto: Calligraphic Composition of Persian Poetry

16 verso: Three Partially Clad European Woman

17 verso: Bird Perched on a Flowering Prunus Branch

18 verso: A Man on Horseback Bending Downward to Grasp the Horns of a Gazelle
Forms double page with 19 Recto

19 recto: An Emaciated Nag and a Fatted Cow
Forms double page with 18 verso

20 recto: Floral design with Birds and Fish

21 recto: Seated Courtier Holding a Sword

22 Pink flyleaf (blank)

This record was created from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator; it may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at