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Reclining prince
ca. 1530

Aqa Mirak
Safavid period

Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
H: 33.6 W: 21.2 cm
Tabriz, Iran

Purchase--Smithsonian Unrestricted Trust Funds, Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program, and Dr. Arthur M. Sackler S1986.300

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This composition, attributed to the celebrated painter Aqa Mirak, embodies sixteenth-century Persian ideals of beauty and sophistication. The reclining youth is dressed in sumptuous clothing and holds up an open book inscribed with a poem that establishes a literary parallel to his refinement. Written in minute characters, it refers to the legendary beauty of Yusuf, the biblical Joseph, who was considered the ideal man in Islamic mysticism.

Fate granted such beauty to the face of Yusuf
Try to draw such [beauty] for your face, O slave.