"Allegory of Worldly and Otherworldly Drunkenness", Folio from the Divan of Hafiz

Poet: Hafiz (probably 1325/6–90)

Artist: Painting by Sultan Muhammad (active first half 16th century)

Object Name: Folio from an illustrated manuscript

Date: ca. 1531–33

Geography: Attributed to Iran, Tabriz

Medium: Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper

Dimensions: Illuminated folio:
Painting: H. 8 1/2 in. (21.6 cm)
W. 5 15/16 in. (15.1 cm)
Page: H. 11 3/8 in. (28.9 cm)
W. 7 1/8 in. (18.1 cm)

Calligraphic folio:
Painting: H. 7 in. (17.8 cm)
W. 3 3/8 in. (8.6 cm)
Page: H. 11 1/4 in. (28.6 cm)
W. 7 1/4 in. (18.4 cm)

Mat: H. 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm)
W. 19 1/4 in. (48.9 cm)

Classification: Codices

Credit Line: Jointly owned by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University; Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Stuart Cary Welch Jr., 1988

Accession Number: 1988.430


Sultan Muhammad, the most innovative painter of early sixteenth-century Iran, illustrates the verses by the mystical poet Hafiz by employing his characteristic sense of humor and extreme attention to detail. The tavern party, complete with ecstatic dancers, singers and overindulgent drinkers, is given a new meaning by the presence of angels on top of the pavilion, suggesting that the state of drunkenness can be likened to that of spiritual enlightenment. As a Sufi symbol, wine stands for heaven's divine light and the cup into which it is poured, for the devotee's heart.