Lion and Dragon in Combat, mid-17th century; Safavid

Posted by Chris Parker
Dec 20 2005

Signed by Muhammad Baqir
Ink and transparent color on paper: color by

Rogers Fund, 1974 (1974.20)

Are we sure that this artist from the 1600′s in Iran had never seen a battle between a lion and a “dragon”? Did he really draw a battle between a very real lion and a mythological beast? Or–did these animals actually interact as reported in histories of the period? This one does have the headcrest which apparently, many of the dinosaurs actually did have….

” Calligraphically rendered drawings enjoyed a long tradition in Persian painting from as early as the fourteenth century under the Ilkhanid and Jalayirid dynasties. The genre was unquestionably indebted to the art of China, which provided not only the initial impetus but also fresh waves of influence at various periods. Favorite subjects among the Persian artists and their Turkish colleagues, who from the sixteenth century also produced drawings in this mode, were mythological beasts, particularly the dragon, which was often shown in combat, as here.

From the first, these drawings followed the artistic precepts of the Islamic culture that produced them, while the style varied according to period and place. In this drawing, the rhythms of the strongly calligraphic line set up a harmony with the supple curves of the intertwined bodies of the animals, while the nuances of texture and color variations enhance the subtle tension between naturalism and fantasy. Nothing is known of the artist who signed the drawing, although one other work with his signature also bears the date 1069 A.H. (1659 A.D.).

One Response

  1. crypto Z says:

    Whoa, nice! Keep this kind of stuff coming. I am getting really good ideas for the book I am writing titled “A Tall-tale Called Reality”. This is all very intriguing information.


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