Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | History of Shah Esmāʿil | tāriḵ-e ʿālām-ārā-ye šāh esmāʿil

Manuscript M, SE_67

Shah Esmāʿil's Envoy Qanbar Āqā Before Sultan Morād Torkmān

Date of this event: 908/1503.
After Alvand's defeat at Šarur, he returned to the Anatolian highlands to raise another army to confront Esmāʿil. Meanwhile further to the south, Alvand's brother (actually first cousin - see Morton, p.188) Sultan Morād had an army of 60,000, six times larger than anything Esmāʿil could put into the field. Esmāʿil was clearly worried, when a 70year old household servant Qanbar Āqā by name, who had been a slave of Esmāʿil's family since the time of Sultan Ḥeydar, volunteered to serve as Esmāʿil's emissary to Sultan Morad. At first the meeting between Qanbar Āqā and Sultan Morad was cordial - they ate and drank together and spoke politely. However, when Esmāʿil's letter was read, in which he proposed peace between them, Sultan Morād became testy, and the coversation became ugly. Sultan Morād soon became so enraged that he had Qanbar Āqā killed. The ending of this story is quite different in the text of the tāriḵ-e jahāngushā'i-ye ḵāqān-e ṣāḥibibqirān, where Qanbar Āqā is not killed by Sultan Morād, but rather returns uscathed to report to Esmāʿil.

The painting portrays the event at the moment when Esmāʿil's letter is being presented. Sultan Morād is seated just to the right of center, bedecked with a gold crown and cape, his hand outstretched to receive the letter presented to him by one of his courtiers. Qanbar Āqā, portrayed as an elderly black man in Safavid uniform, is seated sheepishly before him, just to the left of center. Five Turkman courtiers, and two Safavids in the lower left, complete the scene.

Location: current whereabouts unknown
Folio size
: 31.8 x 22.2 cm
Painting: 18.1 x 13 cm
Written surface: 13 cm wide. Height (estimated) 22.3 cm.
Inscriptions: in black on two of the figures, identify them as Qanbar Āqā and Sultan Morād respectively. Marginal inscription in red describes the event depicted.

Painting references:
Christies (London) 17 April 2007, Lot 231
Christies (London) 8 October 2015 (Sale 10386), Lot 52

Text references:
Muntaẓer-Ṣāḥeb_1970, pp.67-69.
See Savory, SA_1979, p.46 for this event in the History of Shah ʿĀbbās.
Savory, Safavids_1980, p.29.
Morton, Pembroke_1990, pp.182, 185-89.

Photo courtesy of Christie's. ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2012

Robert Eng
Last updated: May 8, 2016 | Previous update: August 7, 2012 | Originally published: November 9, 2011