Collection online

painting / drawing / album

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Seated scribe; single-page painting or tinted drawing on a detached album folio. Portrait of a seated/kneeling calligrapher or scribe, facing to the right as he holds a safina (album) open to two facing blank pages, with loose leaf paper scattered before him. A small inkwell and various writing implements appear between the loose paper and the scribe's knees. Minimal foliage rendered in gold decorates the surroundings. An inscription beneath the figure's shoes at lower left contains a signature, while an imprint of the royal seal of Shah `Abbas I appears at far lower right in black. While the composition is mainly executed in black and gold ink, details such as the figure's turban, undershirt, robe, shoes and inkwell are emphasised with carefully applied opaque watercolour. The image is bordered by a pinkish-red frame illuminated with a floral pattern in gold.
    Black and gold ink, opaque watercolour and gold on paper.


  • Producer name

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1600 (circa)
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Width: 12.1 centimetres (sheet)
    • Height: 15.5 centimetres (sheet)
    • Width: 6.8 centimetres (image)
    • Height: 12.3 centimetres (image)
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Comment

        royal seal of Shah `Abbas
      • Inscription Type

  • Curator's comments

    'Persian calligraphers were highly respected by their contemporaries and often combined their skills in penmanship with other serious pursuits such as writing poetry, composing and performing music, or compiling historical treatises' (Canby 1993, p. 100, fig. 65, caption).

  • Bibliography

    • Porter 2003 27 bibliographic details
    • Canby 1996 38 bibliographic details
    • Porter & Barakat 2004 73 bibliographic details
    • Canby 2009 fig.10 bibliographic details
    • Canby 1993 fig.65 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    2009 19 Feb-14 Jun, BM, Round Reading Room, 'Shah 'Abbas: The Remaking of Iran'
    2004 7 Jan-7 Apr, Kuala Lumpur, Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, 'Mightier than the Sword'
    2003 22 Mar-25 May, University of Melbourne, Ian Potter Museum of Art, 'Mightier than the Sword'

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    Transferred from the Department of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books (OMPB).

  • Department

    Middle East

  • Registration number


COMPASS Title: Riza-yi cAbbasi, Seated calligrapher, a drawing


COMPASS Title: Riza-yi cAbbasi, Seated calligrapher, a drawing

Image description



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Object reference number: RFM418

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