© The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Name of Object:

'Saz'-style drawing of a dragon amid foliage


New York, United States of America

Holding Museum:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Hegira c. 946–57 / AD c. 1540–50

Type of object:


Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Ink, opaque watercolour, and gold on paper


Painting: H: 17.3cm, W: 27.2cm; Mat: H: 40.6cm, W: 55.9cm; Frame: H: 43.2cm, W: 58.4cm

Period / Dynasty:



Istanbul, Turkey


The mid‑sixteenth century saw the flourishing of the so‑called saz style—characterized by the depiction of stylised, serrated leaf foliage, often paired with fantastic creatures including dragons and phoenixes. This imagery appears on Ottoman art in a variety of media, including textiles. This magnificent dragon drawing is ascribed to the master of the style, Shah Quli, an artist who emigrated from Iran to Istanbul and became head of the royal atelier under Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent.

How Object was obtained:

Bequest of Cora Timken Burnett, 1956

Artist: Shah Quli, Turkish, born Tabriz, Iran, active ca. mid-16th century

Former owner: Cora Timken Burnett, Alpine, NJ (by 1940–d. 1956; bequeathed to MMA)

Selected bibliography:

Ackerman, Phyllis, Guide to the Exhibition of Persian Art. The Iranian Institute, New York, New York: The Iranian Institute, 1940: 206, no. Gallery VII; case 99D.
Bernus-Taylor, Marthe, L'Etrange et le Merveilleux en Terres d'Islam. Musée du Louvre 23 avril–23 juillet 2001, Paris: Musée du Louvre, 2001: 92–93, 115, no. 81, ill.
Ekhtiar, Maryam, Canby, Shelia R., Haidar, Navina and Soucek, Priscilla P. (eds), Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011: 6, 287, 290–92, no. 202, ill. 291 (colour).
Ettinghausen, Richard, "Islamic Art", Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 33/1 (Spring 1975): 42–43 (b/w).
Grube, Ernst J., Muslim Miniature Paintings from the XIII to XIX Century. From Collections in the United States and Canada, Venice: N. Pozza, 1962: no. 78, 99–100, ill. pl. 78 (b/w).
Grube, Ernst J., Studies in Islamic Painting, London: Pindar Press, 1995: 325, ill. fig. 21 (b/w).
Meredith-Owens, G, Turkish Miniatures, London: British Museum, 1969: 19. Says a dragon in combat with a phoenix in the MMA may be a work of the Persian Sahkulu but it is by no means certain.
Welch, Stuart Cary, "Two drawings, a tile, a dish, and a pair of scissors," in Richard Ettinghausen (ed), Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1972: 292, ill. fig. 2 (b/w).

Additional Copyright Information:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of Cora Timken Burnett, 1956

Citation of this web page:

 "'Saz'-style drawing of a dragon amid foliage" in Explore Islamic Art Collections , Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://www.museumwnf.org/thematicgallery/thg_galleries/database_item.php?itemId=objects;EPM;us;Mus23;29;en&id=paintings

MWNF Working Number: US3 29

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