Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | History of Shah Esmāʿil | tāriḵ-e jahāngushā'i-ye ḵāqān-e ṣāḥibibqirān

Manuscript L, folio 74

Esmāʿil Celebrates the Rite of the Twelve Imams

Date of this event: 907/1501.
According to the Ālamārā-ye šāh Esmāʿil,, after the battle with Mirzā Alvand Torkmān, Esmāʿil marched into Tabriz in triumph, ascended the throne, and the Twelver rite of Shi'ism was made public. The text accompanying the painting specifies the masjed-e jomʿa in Tabriz as the location of the ceremony, and states that on Friday, the kaṭib, who was a shi'a, and Esmāʿil, went to the mimbar. There Esmāʿil brandished the sword of the twelfth imam and stood like a shining sun. In the depiction, a tiled central dome flanked by two slender minarets, representing the top portion of the mosque, along with two cypress trees on either side, protrude into the upper margin. Leading diagonally downward from the upper right towards the lower left are the steps of the mimbar. Two steps below the top stands young Esmāʿil, then only thirteen years old, dressed in a ceremonial white knee-length coat with gold trim and red qezelbāš tāj. With his right hand he raises a sword over his head in ceremonial gesture that denotes both the adoption of Eṣnā ʿAšari Šiʿism as the official state religion, and the commencement of Safavid rule over Iran. On the top step is the white-bearded kaṭib with turban and long flowing coat, reading from a book, and stretching his left hand over Esmāʿil’s head. At the base of the mimbar, are eight religious dignitaries; balancing them on the right is a group of six qezelbāš. The backdrop is of uncertain spatial dimension. Behind the kaṭib is a panel with a multi-lobed arch and a row of tiles on top. On the left side is a wall of the same width, entirely tiled except for a framed niche in front(?) of it, possibly intended as the mihrab. Between the two walls, on either side, is an opening to the outside with a tree, the branches of which extend inside the mosque.

Painting: 16.9 x 11.75 cm. One line of text above and below the painting. Frame encloses painting and text; a dome, two minarets, and four cypress trees protrude beyond the frame into the upper margin. Some dark smudging on the figures in the lower left; the face of one dignitary and of the kaṭib have been entirely worn away. The face of Esmāʿil may have been retouched. The painting is signed in the lower margin with miniscule characters in Mo¯in’s hand: raqam zad kamina moʿin-e moṣavver. Not dated.

For another version of this scene see Ms. M, f. 48v.

Painting references:

Text X-references:
See Muntaẓer-Ṣāḥeb_1970, p.60 for this event in the History of Shah Esmāʿil.
See Savory, SA_1979, p.44-45 for this event in the History of Shah ʿĀbbās.

Robert Eng
Last updated: November 18, 2010

Photo: © The British Library, London