Portrait of a Sufi

Object Name:
Illustrated single work
first quarter 17th century
Attributed to India, Deccan, Bijapur
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
OveralL. 15 3/8 x 10 3/8in. (39 x 26.3cm)
Dimensions of painting: 5 5/16 x 8 7/8in. (13.5 x 22.5cm)
Credit Line:
Bequest of Cora Timken Burnett, 1956
Accession Number:
Not on view
This figure can be identified as a sufi, on account of his long-sleeved khirqa cloak, and turban wrapped in fabric. His curled-up posture and lowered gaze suggest that he is in a state of deep introspection.
Sufis frequently spent periods of up to forty days in isolation in the wilderness. This practice, called khalwa, facilitated distraction-free meditation and prayer. Young sufis would engage in this habit under the guidance of a shaikh, and more advanced sufis would sustain this practice independently throughout their lives.
[ Hagop Kevorkian, New York, by 1914]; Cora Timken Burnett, Alpine, NJ (by 1940–d. 1956; bequeathed to MMA)
The Iranian Institute. "Exhibition of Persian Art," 1940, Gal. VIII, 40.

Pope, Arthur Upham. Masterpieces of Persian Art. New York, 1945. p. 173, ill. pl. 131 (b/w).

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 VIII; no. 40, p. 241.