Lacquer Pen Box with Royal Audience Scenes

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 462

Kiyani (royal) penboxes with cartouches framing audience scenes, celebrate Persian kingship by linking the ruling monarch with Iran’s great historic and legendary rulers. This example features the court of Nasir al-Din Shah Qajar (r. 1848–96) at the center of the lid. Other audience scenes of Persian rulers, such as Genghis Khan and Khusrau Parviz, as well as legendary kings from the Shahnama (Book of Kings), such as Afrasiyab and Manuchihr, are each identified by inscriptions. Such penboxes were not made for the market but were often commissioned and given as presentation pieces.

Lacquer Pen Box with Royal Audience Scenes, Papier-mache; painted and lacquered

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