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

Manuscript M, SE_591 (Reza Abbasi Museum folio 339v)

Shah Esmāʿil Receiving Ḡazāli Oḡli

This event may again be ficticious; the date would be subsequent to 1517. The ʿālām-ārā-ye šāh esmāʿil relates the following:
once Ḡazāli ʿArab had settled in his new land (cf. f.332v), he wrote to his son Ḡazāli Oḡli in Syria, telling him of the fine treatment he had received from Esmāʿil, and asking his son to gather all the Arabs and join him in Iran. The young Ḡazāli summoned the Arab chieftains and related his father’s words, and much to his surprise they recounted an ancestral debt owed to the Safavids. Many years earlier their forefathers had been captured by Timur who was taking them captive back to Samarkand, when Esmāʿil’s ancestor Sultan Ḵˇāja ʿAli Siāh Puš obtained their release (cf. f.17). Subsequent generations continued to respect and admire the Safavid successors of Sultan ʿAli, and in response to this invitation the Arab chieftains decided to make the mass movement to Azerbaijan. At first, the Ottomans tried to dissuade them, but when this failed, physically attempted to prevent them. Several battles took place during which, if the text is to be believed, enormous numbers were killed on each side. Eventually, despite the obstacles, they succeeded in reaching their destination where Aḥmad Solṭān Qājār, the Safavid governor of Qarā Ḥamid, came out to greet them. News of their arrival was immediately sent to Shah Esmāʿil, who dispatched Div Solṭān Rumlu with gifts of luxurious clothing for Ḡazāli Oḡli and his headmen, together with an invitation to meet with him. But the army of Arabs accompanying Ḡazāli Oḡli also wanted to see the shah to whom they felt so indebted, and insisted on accompanying him. Together 100,000 strong, they rode to meet the shah. The meeting was cordial with a full exchange of respect and pleasantry, after which the Arab families were invited to settle in Šuš (Susa), and Ḡazāli Oḡli was retained by the shah as a confident.

The painting depicts the meeting of Shah Esmāʿil and Ḡazāli Oḡli. The Safavids are grouped on the right, Ḡazāli Oḡli and the Arabs on the left, and in the center running from top to bottom is a space that clearly separates the two groups. Shah Esmāʿil, dressed in his now familiar white coat and flat-top tāj, sits astride a gray horse in the upper right. A mounted qezelbāš is directly behind him holding the ceremonial umbrella of kingship over Esmāʿil’s head. Immediately to the shah’s left is a bearded man dressed in a black and white striped robe and white turban sits astride a chestnut colored horse; he is identified by inscription as Ḡazāli, meaning Ḡazāli ʿArab, the father of Ḡazāli Oḡli. In the near foreground, the lower right of the composition, are three additional mounted qezelbāš. On the left side of the composition, the dominant figure, identified by inscription, is the young Ḡazāli Oḡli. He wears a striped turban with loose ends, a green and blue striped coat with a beige robe underneath, and stretches his arms out in supplication. Immediately to his right is one of the Arab chieftains who repeats Ḡazāli Oḡli’s gesture. The two have dismounted and are standing next to their mounts whose forequarters are visible in the lower left. The background is simply treated: a light pinkish-mauve hillside rises to a craggy rock formation near the top, with four insignificant suggestions of foliage, and a narrow band of blue sky with clouds at the top.

Location: Reza Abbasi Museum, Tehran, No.77.1.7, folio 339v
Painting: 16.0 x 13.2 cm. Dimensions from Mahboubian catalog. A marginal inscription in red describes the event. Inscriptions, also in red, appear on three of the figures, identifying two of them as šāh esmāʿil and ḡazāli oḡli. Just a lam and ye remain of the inscription on the third figure, but undoubtedly this originally read ḡazāli, meaning Ḡazāli ʿArab.

Painting references: Mahboubian_1972, #923 folio 339v (not ill.).

Text references: See Muntaẓer-Ṣāḥeb_1970, pp.591-92 for this event in the History of Shah Esmāʿil.

Robert Eng
Last Updated: Dec. 21, 2011 | Previous update: Dec. 16, 2010 | Originally published: April 4, 2002