Linear Graces ... and Disgraces: Part I, Drawings from the Courts of Persia, Turkey, and India, 15th-19th Centuries

, Harvard University Art Museums
  • Houri in a Paradise Garden

    Houri in a Paradise Garden

  • Gentleman with a Gold Wine Cup

    Gentleman with a Gold Wine Cup

  • A Royal Figure and Several Courtesans Engaged in Amorous Activities

    A Royal Figure and Several Courtesans Engaged in Amorous Activities

    The fragmentary drawing depicts a royal figure engaging in amorous activities with three courtesans. The royal figure’s status is indicated by the bejeweled turban ornament. On the left is a partial rendering of a pair of hands holding up a mirror to the royal figure. Rajput style, Kota school.

  • Dragons and Geese, Fish and a Turtle

    Dragons and Geese, Fish and a Turtle

    This piece consists of two separate folios that have been pasted together. The first folio (2009.202.123.1) bears sketched vignettes; on the left is a dragon on the left with a sinuous body, long neck, large head, and a gaping mouth; in the center is a pair of geese; and on the right are two dragons in combat. The second folio (2009.202.123.2) contains sketches of fish and a turtle. Rajput Style, Kota School.

  • Lovers Embrace

    Lovers Embrace

  • Rose and Nightingale

    Rose and Nightingale

  • Fath ‘Ali Shah and Miran Shah, Two Holy Men

    Fath ‘Ali Shah and Miran Shah, Two Holy Men

  • A Camel

    A Camel

    This fine drawing of a camel and a watchful man is executed in black ink and highlighted with pink and yellow watercolor. The camel is tied from its forefeet to a cut tree trunk. It also has a chain tied to its head which is hanging loose. The camel’s long hair and facial details are well executed although a calligraphic quality of line is felt in the depiction of its lower torso and feet. Possibly the guardian or owner of the camel is shown behind a hill looking over the camel. His face is more sketchily executed than that of the camel. The drawing is signed by the artist Mu’in Musavvir and dated to the 28th day of Shavval 1089 (13 December 1678).

  • Portrait of Aurangzeb

    Portrait of Aurangzeb

  • Portrait of Shah Abu’l Ma’ali

    Portrait of Shah Abu’l Ma’ali

    In this drawing, an elegant young man wearing the big, folded turban characteristic of the reign of Humayun kneels facing to the right. Beneath the figure a quatrain of Persian poetry extols angelic physical beauty.

  • Pierced Window Screen (Jali)

    Pierced Window Screen (Jali)

  • A Portly Courtier

    A Portly Courtier

  • Fort of Gagraun

    Fort of Gagraun

  • Two Pigeons

    Two Pigeons

  • A Maiden Reclines, drawing by Aqa Riza (recto); calligraphy by Ahmad al-Husayni (verso)

    A Maiden Reclines, drawing by Aqa Riza (recto); calligraphy by Ahmad al-Husayni (verso)

    This drawing shows a reclining woman with only her lower torso covered with her clothes. Her arms are crossed above her head and a head scarf floats loosely above her breasts. Her long hair can be seen through as well. S.C. Welch attributes the drawing to Aqa Riza’s work in the late 16th century. He suggests that it was made after an Italian print of Marcantonio Raimondi. The nasta’liq calligraphy on the other side of the album page is signed by Ahmad al-Husayni and was most likely illuminated by him based on his name. The margins on both sides are decorated with floral stencils.

  • A Holy Man Meditates (Shrine with Sleeping Ascetic)

    A Holy Man Meditates (Shrine with Sleeping Ascetic)

    Beneath a gnarled tree, an ascetic sleeps with head on knees before a small, domed shrine. A small cook tends the fires beneath a pot in the foreground, and in the background a disciple gazes upon the ascetic.

  • Khusraw and Shirin (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Khamsa (Quintet) of Amir Khusraw Dihlavi

    Khusraw and Shirin (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Khamsa (Quintet) of Amir Khusraw Dihlavi

  • Man with Ram

    Man with Ram

  • Five Views of an Elephant Combat

    Five Views of an Elephant Combat

  • Arabesque with Dragon and Parrot

    Arabesque with Dragon and Parrot

  • Rao Ram Singh I of Kota, as a Prince, Slays a Rhinoceros from an Elephant

    Rao Ram Singh I of Kota, as a Prince, Slays a Rhinoceros from an Elephant

    This prepratory drawing, for a wall painting for the Chhatra Mahal in Kotah, features Rao Ram Singh I of Kota (r. 1667-88) as a young prince hunting a rhinocerous while on an elephant. Rao Ram Singh I was known as a skilled warrior and hunstman; his mastery over the elephant is demonstrated here by his lack of an ankus, or elephant goad, a tool that is used to control and manipulate the animal's movements. With both his hands free, he is shown firing arrows at the rhinoceros. The elephant, an active participant in this hunt, has its eyes fixed on the target as it wraps its trunk around the rhinoceros's neck. he artist’s masterful evocation of speed—from the windswept elephant trappings to the wildly ringing bells—along with the sheer mass of the beasts thundering across our vision contribute to the drawing’s sense of unstoppable power.

  • Nala Entertained, Drawing for a Nala Damayanti Series

    Nala Entertained, Drawing for a Nala Damayanti Series

    The fragmentary drawing, which has suffered significant loss, features a court scene. The king, Nala, shown as a young man, is seated under an awning and is smoking a hookah. He is accompanied by two large men, one of who turns back to look at Nala. A large group of men wearing turbans and some wielding swords, encircle the entire scene. In front of Nala is a group of female dancers. The drawing appears to be a preparatory drawing for a Nala Damayanti, which focuses on the story of King Nala of Nishadha Kingdom, and his marriage to princess Damayanti of Vidarbha. Their story is recounted in the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata and also numerous independent poems. Pahari Style, Kangra School.

  • Small Circular Covered Box with Floral Decor

    Small Circular Covered Box with Floral Decor

  • Landscape with Water Mill

    Landscape with Water Mill

  • Pen Box with Three Reed Pens and Inkwell

    Pen Box with Three Reed Pens and Inkwell

  • Dragon in foliage

    Dragon in foliage

  • Elephant Combat

    Elephant Combat

    The drawing depicts two large elephants engaged in combat in a special arena. A large partition prevents the animals from seriously harming one another. The elephant on the left is fettered by chains on its feet, perhaps indicating that he is in must and therefore in a heightened, aggressive mood. Each elephant driver (mahout) wields his goad (ankus) as the animals attempt to gore one another with their tusks. The goad is a tool that is used to control the animal’s behavior and movements. As seen here, tusks were sawed to have blunt ends to prevent injury. The artist has varied his lines from bold to delicate to capture the powerful movement of the elephants and to suggest their wrinkly hides. Rajput style, Kota school.

  • Ascetics  Making Bhang

    Ascetics Making Bhang

    This small drawing depicts four youths in a wooded setting. Three are handling pots and a basket while a fourth peers down from behind a tree. The figures are nude, covered if at all, only by wavy hair. A dog, with crossed forelegs observes from the right; a walking stick with curving handle lies in the middle ground. These elements--the nudity, the walking stick, and the dog--are attributes of India's religious ascetics and common to their artistic portrayal.

  • Elephants Approaching a Palace (recto, fragment); Pricked drawing of Matsya, Visnhu’s Fish Avatar (verso, fragment)

    Elephants Approaching a Palace (recto, fragment); Pricked drawing of Matsya, Visnhu’s Fish Avatar (verso, fragment)

    On the recto side of this page is a large caparisoned elephant approaching a palace with its trunk raised up, saluting a figure on the palace’s balcony. Due to the missing portion of this image, it is difficult to determine the identity of the royal figure, although it has been suggested it is Prince Madho Singh. Mounted on the elephant is a driver carrying an elephant goad. The large elephant leads a group of smaller elephants who are also accompanied by drivers. On the right of the large elephant is a calf. An attendant on foot sprays water at the large elephant from a hose. On the verso side of this page, in the upper right hand corner is a fragmented drawing of Matsya, the Hindu god Vishnu’s first and fish avatar. The drawing has been pricked to prepare for pounce transfer, which involves forcing powder such as chalk and charcoal through the holes onto a clean surface to copy the image. Rajput Style, Kota School.

  • A Bearded Man Leaning on a Crutch

    A Bearded Man Leaning on a Crutch

    This diminutive drawing depicts a bearded man who leans on a crutch, perhaps because of age or lameness. He has tucked a book into the chest of his caftan, which he holds with both hands. From his belted sash hangs a case and tassels. The drawing is mostly in black ink except for the headgear, crutch, and the sash, which are drawn in red ink. The boots are painted with an opaque red color and gold is applied in a small area on the head gear. The red color of his boots definitely draws attention and perhaps had a special meaning in the original context. The drawing has been attributed by S. C. Welch to Shaykh Muhammad, who had also worked on two important manuscripts produced for Shah Tahmasb. The drawing is too large to have been a preparatory sketch for a miniature painting, and perhaps demonstrates the transition to single figure drawings destined for albums.

  • Two Seated Men (drawing attributed to Bihzad), with Verses about the Inconstancy of Prophetic Vision by Sa'di (calligraphy, verso); Temptation with Wine (painting, recto); folio from an album

    Two Seated Men (drawing attributed to Bihzad), with Verses about the Inconstancy of Prophetic Vision by Sa'di (calligraphy, verso); Temptation with Wine (painting, recto); folio from an album

  • Houri in a Paradise Garden
  • Gentleman with a Gold Wine Cup
  • A Royal Figure and Several Courtesans Engaged in Amorous Activities
  • Dragons and Geese, Fish and a Turtle
  • Lovers Embrace
  • Rose and Nightingale
  • Fath ‘Ali Shah and Miran Shah, Two Holy Men
  • A Camel
  • Portrait of Aurangzeb
  • Portrait of Shah Abu’l Ma’ali
  • Pierced Window Screen (Jali)
  • A Portly Courtier
  • Fort of Gagraun
  • Two Pigeons
  • A Maiden Reclines, drawing by Aqa Riza (recto); calligraphy by Ahmad al-Husayni (verso)
  • A Holy Man Meditates (Shrine with Sleeping Ascetic)
  • Khusraw and Shirin (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Khamsa (Quintet) of Amir Khusraw Dihlavi
  • Man with Ram
  • Five Views of an Elephant Combat
  • Arabesque with Dragon and Parrot
  • Rao Ram Singh I of Kota, as a Prince, Slays a Rhinoceros from an Elephant
  • Nala Entertained, Drawing for a Nala Damayanti Series
  • Small Circular Covered Box with Floral Decor
  • Landscape with Water Mill
  • Pen Box with Three Reed Pens and Inkwell
  • Dragon in foliage
  • Elephant Combat
  • Ascetics  Making Bhang
  • Elephants Approaching a Palace (recto, fragment); Pricked drawing of Matsya, Visnhu’s Fish Avatar (verso, fragment)
  • A Bearded Man Leaning on a Crutch
  • Two Seated Men (drawing attributed to Bihzad), with Verses about the Inconstancy of Prophetic Vision by Sa'di (calligraphy, verso); Temptation with Wine (painting, recto); folio from an album
Harvard University Art Museums