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A TRAPEZOID SHAPED DRAWING OF THREE LIONS ENCIRCLING A PHOENIX, PROBABLY HERAT OR TABRIZ, EARLY 15TH CENTURY A TRAPEZOID SHAPED DRAWING OF THREE LIONS ENCIRCLING A PHOENIX, PROBABLY HERAT OR TABRIZ, EARLY 15TH CENTURY A TRAPEZOID SHAPED DRAWING OF THREE LIONS ENCIRCLING A PHOENIX, PROBABLY HERAT OR TABRIZ, EARLY 15TH CENTURY

Lot 58 A TRAPEZOID SHAPED DRAWING OF THREE LIONS ENCIRCLING A PHOENIX, PROBABLY HERAT OR TABRIZ, EARLY 15TH CENTURY

Reference: ARTOTHE92694

This drawing of unusual form comes from a group of drawings which are attributed to the master artist of the late 14th-early 15th century, 'Ustad Muhammad Siyah Qalam’ - Muhammad, the Master of the Black Pen.
It depicts three fierce lions prowling around a circular medallion amid plants of spiky palmate leaves growing from clusters of small rocks. The representation of the lions is naturalistic, which closely resembles the way Muhammad Siyah Qalam used to draw animals, and other super-natural figures, in his other works which are signed by him and are currently housed in various top museums such as the Topkapi Palace Museum.
The bodies of the three lions undulate in a similar way, although the position of their legs, tails and head differs, adding to the particular intensity of this circular composition; the three lions are oriented anti-clockwise, starting with the most menacing-looking lion situated at the upper end of the panel. The mouth of all three lions seem to be biting down on the scroll motif which is around the central medallion.
The circular medallion bordered by scrolls, includes a magnificent Phoenix with its wingspans spread out depicting a very fine detail of the body structure, surrounded by floral motifs.

CATALOGUE NOTE
It has been suggested that these peculiarly shaped drawings were conceived as decorative patterns for the manufacture of bookbindings, quivers or cloud collards. The reason of the triangular shape is, however, still unclear, although the highly finished nature of the drawing suggests that of these were valued as independent art works of who which is attributed to works of Muhammad Siyah Qalam’s.
Another similar piece in the Jean Pozzi collection, has three tigers oriented anti-clockwise, just like our one, and the few other pieces from this group which exist today. However, the orientation of the one sold at Sotheby’s (lot 24, April 30th 2003) is clockwise.

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