Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Portrait of a Dervish

Object Name:
Illustrated album leaf
16th century
Present-day Uzbekistan, Bukhara
Main support: ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper Margins: gold on dyed paper
Page: 15 3/4 x 10 1/4 in. (40 x 26 cm) Painting: 7 1/16 x 4 1/8 in. (18 x 10.5 cm) Mat: 19 1/4 x 14 1/4 in. (48.9 x 36.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Cora Timken Burnett Collection of Persian Miniatures and Other Persian Art Objects, Bequest of Cora Timken Burnett, 1956
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 455
In the sixteenth century, albums with examples of great painting and calligraphy pasted onto decorated pages became popular. This folio from such an album includes a portrait of a dervish, or member of a mystical religious fraternity, surrounded by lines of poetry from another work. Shown enveloped in a mantle, lost in thought with a string of prayer beads hanging from his sleeve, the dervish embodies the ideal of religious absorption, but the individualized drawing of his face suggests a true portrait.
Inscription: The Persian calligraphy above and below the portrait reads: "Why am I then obliged to Heaven that it has given me a soul? For it has created within me a source of sorrows from which that soul suffers."

Inscription in Persian in Nastaʻliq script (above and below portrait):
چه مشتست ز جان بخشي فلک بر من که چو تو آفت جاني بلاي جانم کرد

Jacques Doucet, Paris (by 1910–d. 1929); Cora Timken Burnett, Alpine, NJ (by 1932–d. 1956; bequeathed to MMA)
Ackerman, Phyllis. "The Iranian Institute, New York." In Guide to the Exhibition of Persian Art. 2nd. ed. New York: The Iranian Institute, 1940. no. Gallery VII, case 89A, p. 200.

Welch, Stuart Cary. The Islamic World. vol. 11. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. pp. 94-95, ill. fig. 71 (color), front cover (color).

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