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Man Filling a Wine Cup
mid-17th century

Safavid period

Ink, color wash, and gold on paper
H: 11.4 W: 8.0 cm
Isfahan, Iran

Gift of Charles Lang Freer F1907.2

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This fine drawing on brown paper depicts a kneeling religious scholar (shaykh) holding a wine gourd in one hand and a gold cup in the other. It is framed by four lines of poetry that offer a humorous interpretation of the composition but also question the meaning of true devotion.

A shaykh who would use his tears [of repentance] for his ablutions,
Was always averse to a cup and jar [of wine].
At our gathering last evening, he created quite an uproar,
He broke our wine bottles and we his aversion to wine.

Although the composition bears the signature of Riza Abbasi, one of the most celebrated seventeenth-century Persian painters, it is probably by one of his followers. Because of Riza Abbasi's fame, many of his students added his name to their works in order to enhance their value.