Portrait of a Sufi, Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper

Portrait of a Sufi

Object Name:
Illustrated single work
first quarter 17th century
Attributed to India, Deccan, probably Bijapur
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Page: 15 1/8 x 9 3/4 in. (38.4 x 24.8 cm)
Painting: 8 7/8 x 9 3/4 in. (22.6 x 24.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Bequest of Cora Timken Burnett, 1956
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 463
The primitive fur, the alms bowl, the flute, and the trance-like meditative state identify this figure as a dervish, or a sufi, a Muslim mystic who has renounced the material aspects of existence. The sense of abstract patterning in the fur and in the man's crossed limbs, combined with the distinctive palette featuring pink and sky blue, suggest an origin in the Deccan, possibly Bijapur. The invocation at the lower left, "Oh Prophet of the House of Hashim from thee comes help," referring to the prophet Muhammad, is in Persian.
Inscription: In Persian, above the depiction of the Sufi's bowl: "O Prophet, descendant of Hashim, from thee is (our) help" (Information present on card)
Cora Timken Burnett, Alpine, NJ (by 1940–d. 1956; bequeathed to MMA)
The Iranian Institute. "Exhibition of Persian Art," 1940, Gal. VII, no. 94.

Venice. Fondazione Giorgio Cini. "Miniature Islamiche dal XIII al XIX Secolo," 1962, no. 74.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Rumi," October 15, 2007–March 5, 2008, no catalogue.

New York. Brooklyn Museum. "Light of the Sufis: an introduction to the mystical arts of Islam," June 5, 2009–September 7, 2009, no. 9c.

Houston. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "Light of the Sufis: an introduction to the mystical arts of Islam," May 16, 2010–August 8, 2010, no. 9c.

Pope, Arthur Upham. Masterpieces of Persian Art. New York, 1945. p. 174, ill. pl. 132 (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 VII, no. 94, p. 203.

Grube, Ernst J. "from Collections in the United States and Canada." In Muslim Miniature Paintings from the XIII to XIX Century. Venice: N. Pozza, 1962. no. 74, p. 94, ill. pl. 74 (b/w).

Swietochowski, Marie, and Richard Ettinghausen. "Islamic Painting." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., vol. 36, no. 2 (Autumn 1978). Back cover (color).

Zebrowski, Mark. Deccani Painting. Berkeley, CA: Sotheby Publications, 1983.

Sims, Eleanor, B. Marshak, and Ernst J. Grube. "Persian Painting and its Sources." In Peerless Images. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002. no. 174, p. 259, (color).

Akbarnia, Ladan, and Francesca Leoni. "The Mystical Arts of Islam." In Light of the Sufis. Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2010. no. 9c, pp. 32-33, ill. p. 33 (color).