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)
Cora Timken Burnett Collection of Persian Miniatures and Other Persian Art Objects, Bequest of Cora Timken Burnett, 1956 (57.51.27)
The popularity of the dervish, or member of a religious fraternity, as the subject of single figure studies shows how widely mysticism had pervaded Islamic society and culture. In this instance, the figure has been placed in an appropriate setting, seated on a prayer rug and framed by an arch suggesting a mihrab, or prayer niche. The pose of the body, drawn into a compact form and enveloped in a mantle, the profile position of the head, and the string of prayer beads hanging from the right sleeve, enhance the impression of religious absorption. The drawing of the face reveals an unexpected combination of sensitivity with sensuousness that suggests a true portrait rather than an idealized type.