Articles | Classic Art
The Migration of Persian Artists to India

The Migration of Persian Artists to India in the Safavid Period

Kefayat Koosha

Tavoos Art Quarterly.No 8. Summer 2001


Shah ‘Abbas I, in a letter to the imprisoned Seal Keeper, Jalal-ed-Din Amir-Beik, unambiguously mentions a significant event of Safavid times, namely the Persians’ efforts at migrating to India.1 Although this course of events is also widely reflected in his contemporaries’ notes, and has been studied by many researchers, our knowledge in this regard is still scarce. At first glance, it may appear that the lack of direct evidence will prevent any significant headway to be made in this concern. Yet, only a small part of the texts and sources related to this subject have been investigated so far, and many relevant historic clues are yet unknown. Therefore, it appears that a wide-ranging systematic search in the texts and sources of this period can be fruitful. Hence, relying on existing documents, the present research attempts to examine the massive migration of Safavid artists to India, which reached its peak during the long reign of Shah Tahmasb, an era of crises that culminated in harsh social changes.

Generally speaking, no complete account of Shah Tahmasb’s personality and life is available, and we have to make do with the terse, incomplete and occasionally contradictory descriptions given by existing sources in order to reveal the face of an otherwise little known monarch. Sources record that he was almost eleven years old upon his accession to the throne in 930 AH / AD 1523.2 Almost all the sources of the time also unanimously record that, in his young age, the king was greatly attracted to the arts and artists, to the extent that he not only took painting and calligraphy lessons, but also promoted these arts among his courtiers. He kept to this policy in later years3.

As some sources indicate, the offspring of prominent families were educated at the court. In fact, they were being trained as future office-holders. Sharaf-Khan, who had been educated at the court, writes that the king had his generals’ and courtiers’ children brought to court and given a comprehensive education equal to that reserved for princes. Sharaf-Khan’s explanations show that, among the different curricular subjects, the king considered necessary for himself, the princes and his courtiers to take painting courses: “… As they reached the age of growth and discrimination, he taught them the martial arts, shooting with the bow, playing polo, galloping on horseback, and the rules of warfare and humanity, and he told them to also devote some of their time to painting, by which one acquires a straight taste.”4 At the time, art workshops affiliated to the court also existed in which manuscripts were illustrated for the king. These workshops undoubtedly constituted the country’s main center of cultural activity, as well as its highest center of art education, where young artists were trained by professors attached to the court on a permanent basis, who were often close confidants of the Shah. On the evidence of different sources, we know that the Shah himself also took courses with these professors. The Royal Library at Tabriz, together with its painting workshops, was directed by Kamal-ed-Din Behzad until 942 AH. Such great painters as Soltan-Mohammad, Aqa-Mirak, Mir-Mosavver, Doost-e Divaneh, and others were employed at the Royal Library. Budaq and Eskandar-Beik-e Torkaman say that Shah Tahmasb learned painting with Soltan-Mohammad, while Mostafa ‘Ali believes that the Shah’s teacher was Khajeh ‘Abd-ol-‘Aziz Esfahani.5Budaq, Rumloo, Qazi Ahmad and Eskandar-Beik also speak of the Shah’s predilection for painting and calligraphy, noting that he “was keenly fond of penmanship and artistry”6 all along his childhood and adolescence. Budaq, Rumloo and Eskandar-Beik say that it was in this frame of mind that he gathered such eminent painters as Soltan-Mohammad, Behzad, Mirak-e Esfahani, Mir-Mosavver, and Doost-e Divaneh at his court. They continue: “The king devoted them full attention and kindness.” They also quote a diptych by Booq-ol-‘Eshq, which reflects the unrestrained progress of this period’s painters.7

Eskandar-Beik has spoken in similar words about the poets, 8 and it has also been said that, besides painting, the Shah also had some talents in calligraphy, poetry, and carpet design.9 However, the policy pursued in those years10 was soon abandoned. The Shah and his court changed their previous attitudes and stopped supporting and funding the artists. The events that occurred in the subsequent years raise innumerable questions for which no clear answers exist for the time being. Budaq and Qazi Ahmad speak of the Shah’s “displeasure” with the artists and write that he became disenchanted with the artists and dismissed all of them except (the scribe) Doost-Mohammad Gavashani.11 In the author’s opinion, understanding the motives and wherefore of this disenchantment calls for a full knowledge of all the social, cultural, political and economical problems of Shah Tahmasb’s time, and justifying them encompasses a wide spectrum of causes and factors left behind in history. Extreme prudence is imperative in this examination, because the court’s change of heart was the outcome of events that took place in this vital period of Persian history. In fact, that crisis, which reflected the government’s creeds, mirrored the political and social conditions of the time, which eventually put an end to the golden era of Persian painting.

The discontinuation of Shah Tahmasb’s support of the artists is often attributed to religious grounds. Many sources relate the Shah’s dreams and visions concerning his forgoing wine and other prohibited things, and his repetitive amends in 939-41 and 963.12 In this concern, in Shah Tahmasb’s biography (probably an autobiography), we come across detailed reports on his amends.13 Although these texts appear so unequivocal as to leave no possibility of a doubt, the facts are a bit more complicated than they seem. In two unique sources of this period, one is confronted with a different narrative of the matter, which appears worthwhile of being studied in terms of the covert realities of Safavid times.

Budaq-e Monshi and Mahmood ebn-e Khandmir both relate how, while Bahram-Mirza was besieged by ‘Obaidollah-Khan within the ramparts of Herat, at the time of Shah Tahmasb’s departure towards Khorasan, several of the Shah’s servants attempted to assassinate him by poisoning his wine, but fled when their plans failed.14 Further on, after lengthy digressions, Budaq states that, after that event, the Shah “began thinking about repentance, and that this included,” included “abstinence from drinking wine and spirits, committing adultery and sodomy, and other prohibited matters.”15 And that contemporary religious figures were not without influencing the Shah’s decision to make amends.16

Shah Tahmasb is said to have been so resolute in his atonement as to relinquish the very thought of the pleasures of wine and sex. The story of the Shah’s infatuation with Mirza-Mohammad ebn-e Khajeh Qebahat (the Shah’s young cup-bearer) appears in all the sources of the time. These facts are recorded in texts in which matters are usually expressed in conservative terms. A miniature painting depicting this relationship exists in Bahram-Mirza’s Moraqqa‘ (Album), preserved at the Topkapi Saray Library in Turkey, in which the Shah’s youthful “balm of the heart and soul”17 is offering him a cup of wine. Examining these relationships is a worthwhile occupation, because it provides a complete image of the social conditions prevailing in Safavid times. This story, and the miniature, probably date prior to 939 and the Shah’s repentance, when he was 19 or 20 years old. The same is true about a story narrated by Mahmood ebn-e Hedayat Afushte’i Natanzi about Morad-Khan, the Shah’s comely chamberlain. In his description of this event, which took place after the Shah’s repentances, and which he writes to highlight the Shah’s resolution in his atonement, Afushte’i says that, while admiring Morad-Khan’s graceful saunter in performing his duties, “… he felt a substance of pleasure building within him, and immediately repented and, by way of atonement, submitted the sum of twelve Tomans to the treasurers.” He goes on to say that, after this event, the Shah ordered his servants to “hereafter wear kelijehs sewn down to the knee during service.”18 The Shah’s atonement soon took on vaster dimensions and emulating him became a guarantee of survival throughout the country; indeed, violators from every rank and occupation were put to death.19 A king’s atonement may be nothing new. We know that Babur made similar amends in 933 AH (AD 1526),20 but the aim of the present research is to examine the eventual effects of Shah Tahmasb’s atonement on Safavid art. Numerous theories have been put forth in this regard. Some art connoisseurs try to explain the Shah’s interrupted patronage of artists by magnifying his religious zealotry,21 but, as we shall see, contrary evidence exists as well, because the Shah’s ban was supposed to touch only the painters and musicians, whereas Budaq affirms that such was the Shah’s displeasure with artists that he even discharged his scribes.22

Other sources are silent about the causes of this displeasure, but, besides the Shah’s repentance and his dislike of artists, other reasons come to the fore in this concern. In his famous travel account, written in the fifty-first year of Shah Tahmasb’s reign, Vincento d’Allessandri, the Venetian ambassador at his court, writes, after describing his appearance: “… What is most striking in him is his melancholy temper, for which there are many signs, the most important being that he has not set foot outside his palace for eleven years. In the meantime, he has neither gone hunting nor amused himself with anything else.”23 And Qazi Ahmad writes: “Such were that unique king’s acumen and wisdom that he adopted the Dar-os-Saltaneh of Qazvin as his residence for twenty years and

never felt the need to travel or migrate elsewhere.”24

Rumloo also speaks of the Shah’s strange habits. He writes that the Shah “considered most substances impure and had the remains of his food thrown in water or burnt to ashes, and he did not eat during ceremonies.”25 He also narrates that it took the Shah a whole day to clip his nails and that he spent the next from dawn to dusk in his bath, and Qazi Ahmad notes that “That divine king’s obsession with cleanliness went beyond human endurance.”26

This anti-social behavior is not easy to analyze, but one may ask whether the Shah’s contradictory dealings with Homayun, his harsh treatment of his brothers and sons, and his curtailment of patronage of artists, were not other symptoms of his cold, melancholy nature.

The Shah had another negative trait; he was extremely rapacious and fond of accumulating riches. Many sources speak of his avarice and his constant scheming to invent new revenues, which were gradually amassed in his treasury. Chardin gives an interesting account of the treasury of the Safavid kings: “The Shah’s treasury is a truly bottomless pit, because everything disappears in it and only a little comes out of it.”27 D’Alessandri estimates Shah Tahmasb’s yearly income at three million gold coins.28 Concerning the expenses paid by the Shah, he says: “The country’s expenses, which are in fact paid by the treasury, are insignificant, because the Shah is only bound to pay the wages of five thousand soldiers known as Qurchis… But Shah Tahmasb does not pay these Qurchis in cash, but rather supplies them, as down payments, with uniforms and horses which he sells them at whatever price he wishes.”29 More evidence is available in this concern. Rumloo unequivocally states that, in the last years of his reign, the Shah had left his troops and Qurchis unpaid for fourteen years.30 Elsewhere he writes: “As His Majesty delayed sending a law enforcement officer, incessant feuds broke out among the population of Azarbaijan, and [yet] he was so popular with the army that, although he had paid them no wages for fourteen years, no one complained and all went on serving in earnest…”31 Imagining how these Qurchis met their expenses during these years is most interesting, because Shah Tahmasb, whose avarice was constantly growing, rewarded his troops with authorizations of pillage, etc.32

Sharaf-Khan (the supreme commander of the Kurds), whom Shah Esma‘il II had charged with the mission of preparing a list of Shah Tahmasb’s riches, reveals further facts: “… Shah Tahmasb … was extremely avid of amassing wealth in his treasury; so much so that no king of Persia or Turan after the affair of Changiz-Khan, nay, since the advent of Islam, [had] ever so tenaciously devoted efforts at bringing together goods, fabrics, gold vessels and silver utensils…”33

Qazi Ahmad writes, in his Kholasat-ot-Tavarikh: “He amassed more gold, land, population and furnishings than anyone could imagine. His cash money, gems, gold and silver exceeded a thousand [times] thousand Tomans, and removing seventy thousand camel-loads of his household furnishings [would have] left the lot almost undiminished.”34

Reza-Qoli-Khan Hedayat gives a similar description in his Rowzat-os-Safa-ye Nasseri.35 Budaq and Rumloo also say that the Shah handled all financial affairs personally, and that none had the right to interfere in pecuniary matters without his authorization.36 D’Allessandri gives us more interesting information. He says: “… This king sells jewels and carries other business as well, and he enters into bargaining as any other lowly, cunning merchant…” He continues: “[Shah Tahmasb] … did myriad things unbefitting ordinary people, let alone a king…”37 D’Allessandri explains that the Shah was a shrewd trader of velvet, silk and woolen fabrics from Aleppo, Khorasan and the Orient, and that he had garments of these sewn and “… sold at ten times their price to his troops…”38 Most importantly, d’Allessandri unveils another of Shah Tahmasb’s visages: that of a usurer. He says that “[those, rendering services] are granted loans in proportion to their services. Some receive twenty thousand, others twenty-five thousand, and a few a thousand escudos, for a period of ten years for some, and of twenty for others, and every year he takes off his interest for his own use. These royal attendants then give these sums in loan to important courtiers looking forward to the king bestowing titles and offices upon them, at interest rates varying between sixty and eighty percent, and in exchange of solid estate guarantees … and no delay is allowed in the repayment of the interests…”39

Other sources speak extensively about the other aspects of the Safavid kings’ unlimited prerogatives, which made them the total masters of their subjects’ lives and belongings. The Shah was the absolute proprietor of the country and of all its lands and resources.40 Often his displeasure signified people being murdered and all their movable and immovable properties seized. Chardin says about the absolute power of Safavid kings: “… Nothing offers protection against the insane whims of these Shahs; be it probity, merit, sincerity, or past services… As soon as they playfully make an expressive gesture, uttered in a few words or as a significant glance, on the job individuals holding important positions and most valuable creatures are immediately discharged and deprived of all their belongings, and all this takes place in the absence of any kind of trial and without concern about proving the alleged guilt.”41

As can be seen in most sources of Shah Tahmasb’s time, no one was safe from the sharp edge of malicious accusations.42 Depending on his mental and physical disposition, his edicts were often unpredictable, as he occasionally pardoned some accused persons.43 An example in case was the scribe Budaq: “… under the late king, while innocent and for no reason at all, I time and again suffered acrimony and torture, and repeatedly paid nearly seven hundred Tomans…”44

Obviously, no one’s life or belongings were safe in such conditions. On one hand the harsh repression jeopardized social peace of mind, and on the other jealousies, hatreds, and intrigues within the court undermined security particularly among office holders.45 Naturally enough, the conditions necessary for the development of culture and arts did not exist.

In this concern, we quote Edward Browne, who asked Mohammad Qazvini why no great poets existed in Safavid times. Qazvini’s answer was: “… Safavid monarchs … devoted the better part of their efforts to disseminating the Shi‘ite creed … however, they not only manifested no enthusiasm for the development of literature, poetry, mysticism, etc., which they referred to as Kamaliyat—as opposed to Shar‘iyat—but even resorted to all sorts of devices to harass and ridicule their representatives, because these representatives were often not established in religious laws and ceremonials in general.”46

These factors—the court’s cessation of its patronage of artists and its unwillingness to invest in the development of arts—together with the absence of security in a society on the verge of collapse in which everything was permanently in danger, led to the massive emigration of artists; a phenomenon known today as ‘brain drain’, which results from unfavorable living and social conditions.

Nevertheless, Safavid artists had the unique chance that a Dar-ol-Aman47 existed for them in a faraway land. Therefore, faced with the dire conditions of their homeland, they aptly took the opportunity to set out towards India, where they could find strong economic backing. It has been said that, while these migrants only sought a mere daily bread, they obtained the patronage of wise promoters of arts who put an end to their distress and gave them an opportunity to acquire world-wide fame. “… and anyone who reaches India, even if he had embarked only to earn a mere daily bread and wanted no more than that, within the first week comes to support a numerous family and within a short time and without the slightest effort mingles with the nobility and gives undreamed-of sums to beggars…”48 As records indicate, these migrations begin at the very establishment of the Safavid and Gurkani dynasties, i.e., during the reign of Shah Esma‘il I, the contemporary of Babur, and reach their peak at the time of Homayun and Akbar, the contemporaries of Shah Tahmasb. Thus, Homayun, who had become acquainted with the painters of the School of Shiraz during his exile in Persia, deployed every effort at attracting them to his court, to the extent that the Gurkani court’s patronage of Persian artists and poets gave rise to massive migrations in the wake of which new artistic and literary schools were born. Homayun’s meeting with Khajeh ‘Abd-os-Samad Shirazi, a young painter of the School of Tabriz, is described in Akbarnameh.49 Undoubtedly, the social situation in Persia and the Shah’s change of heart towards artists did not remain hidden from Homayun’s keen eyes. Therefore, during his meetings in Tabriz with different artists, he called upon them to join his future court, promising them all sorts of rewards, which he did his best to fulfill. It has been said that, unlike Shah Tahmasb, he was very generous. Writing about Homayun’s generosity, Rumloo says that his recompenses were never less than a lak, and Badvani says that “fearing his recompense, representatives never spoke the name of gold in his presence, for he was not as motivated as his father by keeping a full treasury.” Sadeqi-Beik describes him as a king “infinitely charitable, forgiving, liberal and tasteful,” and compares him with Soltan Hossein- Mirza, and Khandmir writes that every day “the treasury keepers brought in several pure gold badrehs in His Exalted Presence so that anyone He wished to remunerate with pieces and garments of gold could receive these without delay.”50 Also concerning Homayun’s attachment to arts and artists, one reads in Indian sources that, all along his perpetual feuds with various rivals, particularly Prince Kamran, he never neglected his artists and always gave priority to conversing with them.51

He manifested his affection for his artists by bestowing the title of Nader-ol-Molk to Mir-Seyyed-‘Ali and that of Shirin-Qalam to ‘Abd-os-Samad. To better understand the esteem in which these Persian artists were held, one must mention Homayun’s letter to the ruler of Kashghar, in which he introduces his artists and which he accompanies by samples of their works. Bayazid says that the text of this letter had been communicated to him by ‘Abd-os-Samad, in Lahore, in 999 AH,

that is in the thirty-sixth year of Akbar Shah’s reign.52

As can be gathered from what Homayun and Jahangir have said, Persian artists soon gained precedence over many courtiers in their meetings with the emperor. In fact, they were their patrons’ teachers and always served them as trustworthy companions.53 They were also among Homayun’s retinue during his conquest of India, and their names appear, in Akbarnameh as well as in Homayun’s and Akbar’s biographies, as escorting their royal patrons during this important historic event.54

Homayun’s successor, Akbar, surpassed his father in fostering the arts, and it was during his reign that Persian immigrants began pouring into the Gurkani court. Soon, the courtiers began emulating their emperor’s patronage of arts. Notable among them was Bayram-Khan, who “enriched a hundred-fold all those to whom he had so promised in Persia and none remained without a share of his bounteousness.”55

It is also said that Bayram-Khan’s son, Khan-e Khanan ‘Abd-or-Rahim, whom ‘Abd-ol-Baqi Nahavandi describes as having made another Persia out of India, caused many Persian artists and poets to emigrate to India in search of fame and fortune. “This chieftain has made it his duty to ascertain that whoever from the province or other countries of the Inhabited Quarter takes refuge at his court soon achieves esteem and fame…”56 It has been said about Mahabat-Khan (Zamaneh-Beig), who translated into Persian the realities of life during the reign of Babur, that “his generosity and goodwill are cited in example among the Indians…”57 It has also been said about him that he “loved conversing with Persians. He said that they were the epitome of creation.”58 Mention must also be made of Navvab Zafar-Khan (Mirza Ahsanollah)’s keen interest in arts, “the like of him was never found after ‘Abd-or-Rahim Khan-e Khanan in appreciating the arts and artists and supporting literary and lofty minds, and the arrival of most Persian poets to India was due to his auspicious inclination.”59

Badvani speaks of 166 poets named Akbar who reached fame in India. Most of these poets were Persian immigrants and 59 of them are said to have found their way into Akbar’s court.60 Shafiq Owrangabadi, in his Tazkere-ye Sham-e Ghariban, written in 1197 AH, gives a list of Persian poets who immigrated to India in different periods, and Ahmad Golchin-e Ma‘ani refers to one such classified list of 745 Persian poets who migrated to India during the Gurkani reign.61 It is therefore not without reason that, in 990 AH (AD 1582), the Persian language was proclaimed the official language of the Indian government by Akbar’s order.62

Akbar’s first Persian Malek-osh-Sho‘ara (Head Poet) was Ghazzali Mashhadi, and his successor at this position was Fayzi. But the main consequence of the migration of Persian poets to his court was the emergence of a literary style known as ‘Indian’, which constitutes a branch of Persian literature. It was also at the same time that, with Akbar’s support, more than a hundred Indian painters began learning Persian painting under the supervision of Persian painters. The upshot of this current was the birth of the “Indo-Persian” school of art. Percy Brown refers to this school as a branch of Safavid painting.63 Notable among the masterpieces produced in this period was an illustrated manuscript of the Hamzehnameh.64 On the evidence of various sources, we are aware of the existence of three Persian painters at Homayun’s court. The first was Doost-e Divaneh, or Doost-e Mosavver, who had joined Kamran-Mirza’s court long before the two other set foot in India,65 and Mir-Seyyed-‘Ali and Khajeh ‘Abd-os-Samad, who arrived in Kabul, upon Homayun’s invitation, in 956 AH (AD 1549). Many art experts believe that the history of Gurkani painting actually began with the arrival of these three artists.66 However, these theories have undergone radical change in recent years, and other art experts now believe that the pioneering role of Doost-e Divaneh/Doost-e Mosavver along this path must not be neglected.67 While trying to exert utmost caution in depicting the portraits of painters involved in the formation of the “Indo-Persian” school, the author feels compelled to give credit to the assumption that other, lesser known, painters probably also contributed to this movement, but that their names and dates of arrival to the Gurkani court are unknown for want of sources. Thus, while Bayazid asserts that Doost-e Divaneh/Doost-e Mosavver was the greatest painter of the time in Kabul,68 one should bear in mind that in those days no lists similar to those written about poets were compiled for painters, and that it was only under Akbar, upon his initiative and thanks to Ab-ol-Fazl’s efforts, that such lists were first prepared, making a few such outstanding painters known to us.69 Yet, even in these writings, these artists are depicted on a background of regal events and their individual character is seldom brought in focus.70 These documents can and must be examined more thoroughly. Many obscure points still exist that need to be clarified by finding new documents. Here, in an attempt to reach a more rational conclusion, we put together some details that sources have made available to _us. In A’in-e Akbari, we are faced with the narrative of the painter Mani’s emigration to India.71 Budaq, Qazi Ahmad, Sadeqi-Beik and Mostafa ‘Ali speak of Khajeh ‘Abd-ol-‘Aziz and ‘Ali-Asghar Kashi being lured to “set out towards India” by Mohammad ebn-e Khajeh Qebahat, the Shah’s favorite cup-bearer,72 and soon arrested along their way, returned home and punished.73 Budaq also speaks of Soltan Mohammad’s son, who “did not let his father’s efforts go to waste, migrating to India after his death and making great progress there.”74 He also reports that Mir-Mosavver followed Mir-Seyyed-‘Ali on his way to India.75 Scholars also record the presence of the painter Mirak and the calligrapher Mir-Doost at Babur’s court.76 Relying on this mass of evidence, one can visualize a stream of artists and poets, whom we shall call the ‘unknown’, migrating to India for various reasons. Identifying these figures and altering the conventional views of the past depend on discovering new sources.

However, artists, artisans and poets were not the only ones to join the Gurkani court. Mystic scholars, philosophers and physicians77 also emigrated en masse. Molla ‘Abd-on-Nabi Fakhr-oz-Zamani thus writes about his emigration to India: “… But when the author of these lines reached the age of nineteen, setting out on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Emam Reza (PBUH)… he came to Mashhad… where he stayed for almost a month. While staying at the shrine, day after day, anywhere he went, he heard merchants and passers-by giving lavish descriptions of the safe haven that was India. Yielding to his eagerness to see that land, he resolved to travel there. Leaving behind stage after stage, he traveled by way of Kandahar to eventually reach Lahore, quite ill and weakened. He stayed four months in that city before the fatigue of the road dissipated. He then busied himself with exploring Lahore. What a land it appeared to his humble self! One of inexpensive and abundant goods. Another quality of India was that anyone could live there in any way he wished, without anyone having the right to restrain him from doing so. I told myself, ‘This is where you

should live, not in the Dar-os-Saltaneh of Qazvin.’”78

Thus, the flow of emigrations continues. The author of Tazkere-ye Maykhaneh says elsewhere: “… It is well known throughout the world that whoever has had the opportunity of traveling across India and benefiting from this bounteous country, upon returning to Persia, if he does not die on the way between, he indeed dies wishing he were there.”79

Amin Ahmad Razi has thus described India: “… The wealth of good things that exist in this land is unequaled in any other country. ‘Abdollah ebn-e Salam once said that joy was created in ten parts, nine of which were given to India, and the remaining part to the rest of the world. One good thing in India is that travelers need not carry provisions, because food, fodder, and a place to rest are available at every stopover and the chain of arrivals and departures is never broken… Another is that, whatever kind of individual one may be, one is neither hindered nor compelled. [The means of] satisfying personal desires such as those available to frivolous and

young people in India exist in no [other] country…”80

Taleb Amoli was Jahangir’s Malek-osh-Sho‘ara, and such painters as Farrokh-Beig and Aqa-Reza, who had joined Akbar’s court during Jahangir’s life as heir to the throne, were the most illustrious painters of his time. These two artists in fact led the second wave of emigrations and the Persian elements of the “Indo-Persian” school were strengthened anew with their arrival in India.81 In that period, when the pioneer painters had disappeared, the “Indo-Persian” school was headed by Farrokh-Beig. His name is recorded as the supreme painter in Tuzuk-e Jahangiri, where it is also said that he was awarded the sum of two thousand Rupees.82

Other Persian painters certainly existed at the time whose names do not appear in the sources of Jahangir’s time, which were vastly influenced by Tuzuk-e Jahangiri. And Jahangir himself only mentions four of his famous painters: Farrokh-Beig, Ab-ol-Hasan, Mansoor, and Beshandas. As we see, even a renowned painter such as Dowlat is omitted from the king’s journal, while ‘Abd-os-Samad’s son, Sharif, plays a large role in it, not as a painter but as commander in chief of Jahangir’s army.

The famous painters of this period, Ab-ol-Hasan, Mansoor, and Dowlat, may be considered to constitute the third wave of Persian artists at the Gurkani court. However, information concerning their past lives is scarce, and this is not surprising, for their lives actually

began, as it were, upon their joining the Gurkani court!

Unfortunately, what we know at the present time is hardly sufficient to draw up a general history on the matter. The scope of our investigations in this domain is narrow, and this is not our fault; reliable sources in this concern are quite insufficient, but Jahangir is more perceptive about some artists. He writes about Ab-ol-Hasan: “Ever since his childhood he has always been careful in his education before reaching the present standing…”83 One should bear in mind that Jahangir’s inclinations immensely influenced the painters of this period. Hence, following the king’s changing interests, different tendencies—portrait painting, representation of courtly scenes, painting from nature, floral and animal illustration, etc.—emerged among these painters. A keen lover and supporter of the arts, beauty and nature, Jahangir was also a great collector and an authoritative critic. He himself said that he was able to discern the brush strokes of each of his painters in works created in common. Yet, unlike under Akbar, seldom do we come across such collective works in this period, and this highlights another essential point: that Jahangir’s inclinations created opportunities for the painters’ individualities to manifest themselves and their personal aptitudes and singularities to be revealed. This period was also characterized by the impact of Western painting and the appearance of moraqqa‘s (albums), which replaced the illustrated books produced during Akbar’s reign.

The flood of migrations to India continued unabated under Shah Jahan. It was in the early years of this period that Sa’eb Tabrizi visited India, and stayed there for six years.85 Sa’eb’s famous diptych well expresses the Persians’ attachment to India:

Hamcho ‘azm-e safar-e Hend ke dar har del hast,

Raqs-e sowda-ye to dar heech sari nist ke nist.

Just as the wish to travel to India, for which everyone yearns,

There is no head in which the thought of you is not dancing.

In this period Kalim Kashani was the court’s Malek-osh-Sho‘ara for a while. The famous Persian painters of this period included Mir-Hashem, Mohammad-Nader and Mohammad-Morad Samarqandi. Although the famous Safavid painter Mohammad Zaman is said to have joined Shah Jahan’s court86 in this period, no sufficient evidence corroborates this assertion. Portrait painting and album making continued to flourish under Shah Jahan, but it was during his reign that the first steps towards the decentralization of painting were taken. Thus, painting breaks free from the monopoly of the royal court and, with painters joining local courts, the way is paved for painting to become localized under Owrang-Zib. In this period, the Persian elements fade away and the ‘Indo-Persian’ school begins withering. Also, with the discontinuation of the Gurkani kings’ patronage of arts and artists, the flow of migrations to India dwindles, causing the Persian elements of this school to further decline under Owrang-Zib. Meanwhile, with the downfall of the Safavid dynasty, even members of the royal family emigrate to India.87

In conclusion, it is appropriate to quote a remark by Percy Brown, which throws a glance on both sides of the coin: “The artists were fortunate in that their patrons had an insatiable desire for their work, while on their part Mughals were fortunate in finding such talent ready and awaiting their orders.”88

From this viewpoint, the Gurkani kings’s need for the specialties and capabilities of Persian migrants equaled the Persian migrants’ need for their bounteous patronage. Shah ‘Abbas I is said to have once asked Jahangir’s Persian-born emissaries why the Mughals did not send Indians as diplomats to Persia, and heard the following answer: “If there were men in India no one would give us bread. In India the are no [capable] men.”89•



1-His Majesty’s orders were for the Amir-Beik to be aware that a crowd of this country’s people had attempted to cross the sea, leaving Jeddah towards India…” From Shah Tahmasb’s letter to the Seal Keeper Amir Beik. See Nava’i, ‘Abd-ol-Hossein, Shah Tahmasb-e Safavi, Majmu‘e-ye Asnad va Mokatebat-e Tarikhi hamrah ba Yaddasht-ha-ye Tafsili, Tehran, Iranian Cultural Foundation Publications, Spring 1350/1971, p. 7; Shah Tahmasb raises other points in this letter to which we shall return.

 2-Budaq records Shah Tahmasb’s birth date as 26 Zihajjeh, 919 AH and that of his accession to the throne as 20 Rajab, 930 AH, at the age of eleven. Monshi Budaq Qazvini, Javaher-ol-Akhbar, photographic copy at the central library of Tehran University, no. 3514-17, folio 298; Eskandar-Beik also records that Tahmasb was eleven years old upon his accession, the date of which he gives as Monday 19 Rajab, 930 AH. Eskandar-Beik-e Torkaman, Tarikh-e ‘Alam-ara-ye ‘Abbasi, compiled by Iraj Afshar, vol. 1, 2nd printing, Tehran, Amir Kabir, 1350/1971, p. 45; Rumloo records Tahmasb’s accession date as Monday 19 Rajab, 930 AH and his age at the time as ten years, six months and twenty days. Hassan-Beig Rumloo, Ahsan-ot-Tavarikh, emended by Charles Namensiden, Calcutta, 1931, p. 184; Qazi Ahmad records Tahmasb’s age on the day of his accession as ten years, six months and twenty-four days. Qazi Ahmad Monshi Qomi, Kholasat-ot-Tavarikh, emended by Ehsan Eshraqi, Tehran University Publications, 1359/1980, p. 155.

3-See note 10.

4-Sharaf-Khan ebn-e Shams-ed-Din Badlisi, Sharafnameh, compiled by Vladimir, known as Veliaminov Zernov, vol. 1, St. Petersburg, 1860 (1276), pp. 449-50.

5-Budaq, op. cit., folio 114; Eskandar-Beik, op. cit., p. 174; Mostafa ‘Ali Afandi, Manaqeb-e Honarvaran, translated by Dr. Towfiq H. Sobhani, Tehran, Sorush, 1369/1990, pp. 105 & 106, but, on folio 114, Budaq writes that His Majesty (Navvab-e Homayun) named ‘Abd-ol-‘Aziz as his pupil, and Qazi Ahmad’s record comes from this source. Qazi Ahmad, Golestan-e Honar, emended by Ahmad Soheili Khonsari, Tehran, 1352/1973, p. 140. Qazi Ahmad also makes allusions to the Shah’s classmates. In his biography of Mowlana Nazari Qomi, he thus writes about his acquaintance with the Shah: “He practiced painting with His


6-Budaq, op. cit., folios 114, 298 & 299; Rumloo, op. cit., p. 488; Qazi Ahmad,

Golestan-e Honar, p. 137; Eskandar-Beik, op. cit., p. 174, who writes: “His Majesty lavished utter kindness upon this class.”

7-Ibid., and also Qazi Ahmad, op. cit., p. 138, who gives this poet’s name as Manoof Damaghani.

Bi-takallof khosh taraqqi karde-and,

Kateb o naqqash o Qazvini o khar.

Unrestrained, they have well progressed,

The scribe, the painter and the ass.

In this diptych, the term Qazvini refers to the Shah’s vakil, and the poet has also made an allusion to the king’s childish liking for donkey-riding.

8-Eskandar-Beik, op. cit., p. 178, who writes: “… In the early days of His blessed rule, His Supreme Majesty devoted total attention to the welfare of this class. For a while Mirza-Ashraf Jahan and Mowlana Hairati were among the intimate members of His most holy entourage.” Concerning the relations of Mowlana Hairati and Shah Tahmasb, see note 19.

9-Azarpad, Hasan & Heshmati Razavi, Fazlollah, Farshname-ye Iran, Tehran, Cultural Studies and Research Center (Pajuheshgah), 1372/1993, p. 15, but these researchers cite no source for their assertions.

10-For an in-depth study of Shah Tahmasb’s love for painting, calligraphy and poetry, see: Budaq, op. cit., folios 114, 99 & 298; Taqi-ed-Din Owhadi, ‘Arafat-ol-‘Asheqin, photographic copy at Malek Library, no. 5324, folios 331-2; Sharaf-Khan, op. cit., vol. 1, pp. 449-50; Rumloo, op. cit., p. 488; Eskandar-Beik, op. cit., pp. 174 & 178; Sadeqi-Beik Afshar, Majma‘-ol-Khavas, translated into Persian by ‘Abd-or-Rasul Khayyampoor, Tabriz, Iranian History and Culture Institute Publications, 1327/1948, pp. 8-9; Lotf-‘Ali-Beig ebn-e Aq-Khan Bigdeli Shamloo, known under the pen-name of Azar, Ateshkade-ye Azar, emended and annotated by Hasan Sadat Nasseri, vol. 1, Tehran, Amir Kabir, 1336/1957, p. 74; Qazi Ahmad, Golestan-e Honar, pp. 137-140, & Kholasat-to-Tavarikh, pp. 226-7; Fakhri Heravi, Tazkere-ye Rowzat-os-Salatin, emended by ‘Abd-or-Rasul Khayyampoor, Tabriz, Iranian History and Culture Institute Publications, 1345/1966, pp. 70-71; Tarbiat, Mohammad-‘Ali, Daneshmand-e Azarbaijan, 1st printing, Tehran, National

Consultative Assembly, 1314/1935, p. 284, and other sources.

11-Budaq, op. cit., folios 113-114, who writes: “… In the end when the king became displeased with this lot…”; Qazi Ahmad, Golestan-e Honar, pp. 88 & 99; Eskandar-Beik has also written in this concern, op. cit., pp. 174 & 178.

12-Tazkere-ye Shah Tahmasb, attributed to Shah Tahmasb, with preface and index by Amrollah Safari, 2nd printing, Tehran, 1363/1984, pp. 29-30; Rumloo, op. cit., p. 246; Budaq, op. cit., folios 307-8; Qazi Ahmad, Golestan-e Honar, pp. 112-114 and Kholasat-ot-Tavarikh, pp. 597-599, 225 & 386; Bigdeli Shamloo, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 74; ‘Abdi Beigi Shirazi, Taklamat-ol-Akhbar, with preface, emended and annotated by Dr. ‘Abd-ol-Hossein Nava’i, Tehran, 1369/1990, pp. 76-77; Sharaf-Khan, Sharafnameh, photographic copy at the central library of Tehran University, no. 3888, folio 216; Qazizadeh Molla Ahmad Tatavi, Tarikh-e Alfi, manuscript at the library of Tehran University’s Faculty of Theology, no. 5/2B, folio 1017; Mahmood ebn-e Hedayatollah Afushte’i Natanzi, Neqavat-ol-Asar fi Zekr-ol-Akhiar, compiled by Ehsan Eshraqi, Tehran, 1350/1971, p.14; Eskandar-Beik, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 122; Sadeqi-Beik, op. cit., p. 9; Reza-Qoli-Khan Hedayat, Rowzat-os-Safa-ye Nasseri, lithographic copy, vol. 8, and other sources.

13_      Yek chand pay-e zomorrod-e sudeh shodim,

Yek chand be yaqut-e tar aludeh shodim.

Aludeh go’i bood be har rang ke bood,

Shostim be ab-e towbeh asudeh shodim.

For a while We went after ground emerald,

For a while We became soiled with wet ruby,

T’was an abhorrent sh... whatever its color,

[We] washed them away to the fountain of redemption and reached peace of mind. 

From Shah Tahmasb’s poems. See Tazkere-ye Shah Tahmasb, op. cit., pp. 29-30; Bigdeli Shamloo, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 74; Taqi-ed-Din Owhadi, op. cit., folio 332; Sadeqi-Beik Afshar, op. cit., p. 9.

14-Budaq, op. cit., folio 307; Mahmood ebn-e Khandmir, Tarikh-e Safaviyeh,

microfilm at the central library of Tehran University, no. 5497, folio 121; Qazi Ahmad also mentions these facts in Kholasat-ot-Tavarikh, pp. 224-6.

15-Budaq, op. cit.; Rumloo records this event as having taken place in 940 AH, after the Shah’s amends, and he refers to the royal wine cup as the royal sherbet cup. See Rumloo, op. cit., pp. 253-4.

16-Mir-Ahmadi, Maryam, Din va Dowlat dar ‘Asr-e Safavi, 2nd printing, Tehran, Amir Kabir, 1369/1990, p. 67, who says: “Under Shah Tahmasb I, in 943 AH (AD 1536 AD), the (religious) title of Sadr was bestowed upon Amir-Mo‘ezz-ed-Din. Mo‘ezz-ed-Din devoted efforts at disseminating the Shi‘ite creed, and it was during his office that, upon his orders, opium smoking dens, liquor stores and gambling houses were demolished.” He continues: “Generally speaking, the clergy’s influence in Safavid times reaches its peak under Esma‘il I, when it acquires such extraordinary strength that court orders become applicable only when sanctioned by religious authorities.” Elsewhere, while introducing Sheikh ‘Ameli Karaki (Mohaqqeq-e Karaki), he writes: “His influence at the Safavid court reached such heights that it actually followed his orders; in fact, the reign was practically his. Royal edicts and orders only became valid with his assent, and a royal edict was even circulated across the country, to the effect that all the people were required to “abide by the Sheikh’s orders”, because he was the delegate of the Twelfth Imam (PBUH) and that reigning was rightfully his, of whom the Shah proclaimed himself a mere subject.” In this concern, Ms. Mir-Ahmadi refers the reader to Rayhanat-ol-Adab fi Tarajem-ol-Ma‘rufin Be-l-Konyeh va-l-Laqab, vol. 5, p. 245. She has also recorded the of the Sheikh’s

death date as 940, i.e., during Shah Tahmasb’s first atonement.

17-Mostafa ‘Ali Afandi, op. cit., p. 105; Qazi Ahmad, Golestan-e Honar, pp. 101-2, who gives fresh information about him and quotes two diptychs deriding him. Also see notes 72 & 73.

18-Mahmood ebn-e Hedayat Afushte’i Natanzi, op. cit., p. 16.

19-Historic sources are filled with this kind of anecdote. E.g., Budaq, op. cit., folio 300, Qazi Ahmad, Golestan-e Honar, pp. 112-3, and Kholasat-ot-Tavarikh, vol. 1, pp. 255 & 597-99, who writes that, fearing the Shah’s severity, no one committed unholy acts, and whoever played a musical instrument had his hand severed. However, exceptions did exist. Budaq writes that Behzad, then in his old age, still drank wine and the Shah knew about it: “… despite the interdiction his wine kept flowing and the Supreme Delegate knew it …”. Budaq, op. cit., folio 114. A number of writers have seen this ubiquitous austerity as a factor that prompted some Persians to emigrate. Thus, Bayazid Bayat writes that Molla Doost (Doost-e Divaneh / Mosavver), “unable to go on living without wine, which was prohibited since the Shah’s amends, had come into Mirza-Kamran’s presence without prior permission.” See: Bayazid Bayat, Tazkere-ye Homayun va Akbar, emended by Mohammad Hedayat Hossein, Calcutta, 1941, p. 66; In relation with the Shah’s amends and the public prohibition on liquors, a narrative of Mowlana Hairati, a member of the Shah’s entourage according to Eskandar-Beik, is worth hearing. It is said that Mowlana Hairati, who, according to Khoshgu, spent most of his time drinking wine and entertaining paramours, wrote a poem on the prohibition the following diptych of which was reported to the king by jealous telltales:

Az hasad emrooz zahed man‘-e ma az badeh kard,

Varna kay an na-mosalman ra gham-e farda-ye ma-st.

Out of jealousy the pious one today has forbidden us the cup,

For that non-Muslim’s not worried in the least of our tomorrow.

 The Shah, who was exceedingly strict on matters concerning religious interdictions, as most sources have reported, became so angry that Mowlana Hairati fled to Gilan. A few years later he wrote a sonnet in praise of the Immaculate Imams. It is said that, in his dreams, Shah Tahmasb saw the King of Men, the King of Believers, writing down Hairati’s ode, and that he thereupon pardoned Hairati and summoned him to the court. Khoshgu recounts that Hairati was among the king’s retinue during his visit of India. See: Khoshgu, Safine-ye Khoshgu, manuscript at Malek Library, no. 4305, folios 118-119; Amin Ahmad Razi, Tazkere-ye Haft Eqlim, emended and annotated by Javad Fazel, vol. 2, Tehran, ‘Elmi Book Store, p. 317; Concerning the relationship between

Mowlana Hairati and Shah Tahmasb, see note 8. Also, concerning the poetic duel between Hairati and Homayun, see: ‘Abd-ol-Baqi Nahavandi, Ma’aser-e Rahimi, compiled and emended by Mohammad Hedayat, Calcutta, 1924-31, vol. 1, p. 612, and other sources.

20-Babur Shah, or Baburnameh, lithography, Bombay, Malek-ol-Kottab, 1308, pp. 206-7; Badvani has related the atonement of Soltan ‘Ala’-ed-Din Khalaji, the governor of Delhi. See ‘Abd-ol-Qader ebn-e Moluk-Shah Badvani, Montakhab-ot-Tavarikh, emended by Mowlavi Ahmad-‘Ali Saheb, compiled by Kabir-ed-Din Ahmad, vol. 1, Calcutta, 1868, pp. 186-8.

21-Dickson, M. B. & Welch, S. C., The Houghton Shahnameh, Cambridge, 1981, vol. 1, pp. 119, 123-4; Welch, S. C., Wonders of the Age, Harvard University, 1979-80, p. 27.

22-Budaq, op. cit., folios 113-114; Qazi Ahmad, Golestan-e Honar, p. 99; on page 88, Qazi Ahmad also writes: “That Lofty Majesty eventually became displeased with the practices of calligraphy and painting, and absorbed himself with handling the kingdom’s important issues, bringing prosperity to its cities, and assuring the welfare of his subjects.”; Eskandar-Beik also mentions in p. 174 the event and writes that the Shah “had dismissed the library’s personnel still alive, who now worked on their own.” Also concerning the fate of the painters of the age, such as Mir-Zain-ol-‘Abedin and Mowlana ‘Abd-ol-Jabbar-e Astar-Abadi-e Ta‘liq-Nevis-e Naqqash, he writes that these painters and their students “… had created a painting workshop, and worked there.” And he adds about Mir-Zain-ol-‘Abedin: “but he himself always worked for high-ranking officers and aristocrats, and received due consideration…”; naturally enough, had the Shah’s about-face been based on strictly religious grounds, these painters could not have opened a private studio or worked for princes and aristocrats. Thus, Qazi Ahmad, in Golestan-e Honar, pp. 93-4, writes about the calligrapher Mowlana Malek that he “found employment, by order of the Shelter of Mankind, His Majesty the Shah, at Soltan Ebrahim’s library…”

However, on page 178, Eskandar-Beik writes that, near the end of his life, when he had become exceedingly strict on matters concerning religious interdictions, Shah Tahmasb no more considered the poets as honest, pious people, and paid little attention to them. Eskandar-Beik adds that, the Princess Pari-Khan Khanom having received two sonnets which Mowlana Mohtashem Kashani had written in her and Shah Tahmasb’s praise, she submitted them to the Shah, who refrained from making the usual gift to the poet, saying that, rather than praising him, poets should write poems in praise of the Immaculate Imams and expect their gifts from the holy souls of those saint men, and only afterwards from the court.

23-“Vincento d’Allessandri’s Travel Account”, in Safarname-ha-ye Venizian dar Iran, translated by Dr. Manuchehr Amiri, Tehran, Kharazmi Publications, 1st printing, 1349/1970, pp. 437-8.

24-Qazi Ahmad, Kholasat-ot-Tavarikh, vol. 1, p. 599.

25-Rumloo, op. cit., p. 489.

26-Qazi Ahmad, Kholasat-ot-Tavarikh, vol. 1, p. 599.

27-Chardin, Jean, Voyages du Chevalier Chardin en Perse, translated by Mohammad ‘Abbasi, vol. 8, Tehran, Amir Kabir, 1345 (1966), p. 307.

28-“Vincento d’Allessandri’s Travel Account”, op. cit., p. 448.

29-Ibid., Budaq records the Qurchis’ number as three thousand and says that the Shah had “another three thousand Yasavols and Bukavols…” Budaq, op. cit., folio 299; Eskandar-Beik records the royal army’s number at the time of his death as six thousand, namely 4,500 Qurchis and around 1,500 Yasavols, Bukavols, etc…” Eskandar-Beik, op. cit., p. 141; but Qazi Ahmad, in his Kholasat-ot-Tavarikh, vol. 1, p. 599, gives the exaggerated number of 200,000 paid men.

30-Rumloo, op. cit., p. 481. 31Ibid., p. 489.

32-     Molk ra bovad bar ‘adu dast-e chir,

Cho lashkar del-asudeh bashand o sir.

Cho darand ganj az sepah darigh,

Darigh ayadash dast bordan be tigh.

The realm has the upper hand over the foe,

Only when the army’s serene at heart and sated.

When the army’s denied a share in the treasure,

It’s reluctant to take up arms.

Some sources mention the raids of the Qezelbash during the reign of Shah Tahmasb. In Tarikh-e Safaviyeh and Kholasat-ot-Tavarikh, we come across very important points concerning these raids and the sacking of Herat. See Mahmood ebn-e Khandmir, pp. 107, 112 & 118; Qazi Ahmad, pp. 219-221.

33-Sharaf-Khan, op. cit., vol. 2, p. 251.

34-Qazi Ahmad, Kholasat-ot-Tavarikh, p. 599.

35-Reza-Qoli-Khan Hedayat, op. cit., vol. 8, who provides information on Shah Tahmasb’s illness and death, and about differences regarding the Shah’s wealth in those days.

36-Budaq, op. cit., folio 299, who writes, after noting that the Shah’s time was devoted from dawn to dusk to addressing important universal issues: “… Advocates, ministers, tax collectors and writers lost all power of adding or subtracting an iota on their own…”, and Rumloo, p. 489, who writes: “And in his old age, he sat at his books from sunrise to sunset, attending to his realm’s affairs and keeping count of his wealth, and neither an advocate nor a minister

could give a single coin to anyone without his permission…”

Interestingly, Eskandar-Beik writes that, in his old age, the Shah’s multifarious affairs left him no time for painting and paying attention to it, and immediately adds that the Shah had dismissed the personnel of his library. See Eskandar-Beik, op. cit., p. 174. Qazi Ahmad has a similar description in Golestan-e Honar, p. 88. See note 22. In our view, a king who spent his days keeping count of his wealth and withheld his troops’ wages was obviously not going to lavish funds on artists and art workshops! But Golchin-e Ma‘ani, in Tarikh-e Tazkere-ha-ye Farsi, vol. 1, Tehran University Publications, 1348-50/1960-62, pp. 429-30, has included a poem of Fakhri Heravi, in which Shah Tahmasb is praised, and whose last diptych includes an interesting exaggeration of his munificence:

Ze bas ku bebakhshad gowhar be kas,

Bepichad bar khish darya ke bas.

So many gems he bestows to everyone,

That the sea writhes in anguish, meaning ‘enough!’

37-“Vincento d’Allessandri’s Travel Account”, op. cit., p. 441.

38-Ibid., p. 439.

39-Ibid., pp. 441-2.

40-For example, Eskandar-Beik, vol. 2, p. 381, writes: “The agreeable province of Esfahan, known far and wide as ‘Half of the Word’, most of whose lands were the private property of His Majesty…”

41-Chardin, vol. 8, p. 154.

Che hajat tigh-e Shahi ra be khun-e har kas aludan,

To benshin o esharat kon be chashmi ya be abru’i.

What’s the need for the royal sword to become stained with anyone’s blood?

Just sit down and make a sign, with an eye or with an eyebrow.

42-An example in case is that of the Seal Keeper, Amir-Beik, who was accused of sorcery and casting spells on astral bodies, soon captured in Sabzevar by Shah Tahmasb’s order, and put into a case with his hands protruding from its walls and tied together so that he could not use his fingers to try magic tricks. Qazi Ahmad says that the famous poet Qazzali Mashhadi was sent by the Shah’s order to Amir-Beik to recite poems deriding him. Amir-Beik was sent to the fortress of Qahqaheh, and later to the fortress of Alamut, where he remained prisoner until his death. The contents of Shah Tahmasb’s letter addressed to him, which we mentioned earlier in the article and in note 1, indicate that the Shah not only confiscated his hereditary estates, but also pressured him to reveal other likely buried goods and stores he could put his hands on. Concerning the life of the Seal Keeper, Amir-Beik, see Qazi Ahmad, Kholasat-ot-Tavarikh, pp. 220, 611-4, 1349-50; Sam-Mirza-ye Safavi, Tohfe-ye Sami, emendation and preface by Rokn-ed-Din Homayun-Farrokh, Tehran, p. 92; Amin Ahmad Razi,op. cit., vol. 2, p. 439; Rumloo, op. cit., pp. 173, 207-8; Bigdeli Shamloo, op. cit.,

pp. 108-9; Sadeqi-Beik, op. cit., p. 8, who quotes diptychs of Shah Tahmasb’s poems praising him, and other sources. Interestingly, Qazzali Mashhadi himself was later accused of heresy and fled to India. He later became Malek-osh-Sho‘ara (Head Poet), indeed the first Malek-osh-Sho‘ara, of Akbar Shah’s Gurkani court, but he soon accused Mir-Seyyed-‘Ali of plagiarizing Mir-Ashki Qomi. His verbal

arguments with Mir-Seyyed-‘Ali, Nader-ol-Molk Homayunshahi, the illustrious Persian painter of the Gurkani court, ended in Mir-Seyyed-‘Ali migrating to Mecca. Concerning Qazzali Mashhadi’s migration to India, see Sadeqi-Beik, op. cit., pp. 138-9; Badvani, op. cit., vol. 3, pp. 170-2; Khoshgu, op. cit., folio 110. Also see Golchin-e Ma‘ani, Ahmad, Karevan-e Hend, vol. 2, Mashhad, Publications of the Holy Shrine of Emam Reza (pbuh), 1369/1990, pp. 933-5; Nava’i, op. cit., pp. 3-4.

43-For example, Eskandar-Beik-e Torkaman, writing about the life of Mowlana Hasan Baghdadi, records that Shah Tahmasb always chided him for his nonchalant attitude towards religion, but eventually refrained from punishing him when Mowlana Baghdadi had the dome of the Shrine of Hazrat Abu-‘Abdollah decorated, and had him take the oath of amendment. Eskandar-Beik, op. cit., p. 177.

44-Budaq, op. cit., folio 340.

Sabzeh pa-mal ast dar pa-ye derakht-e miveh,

Dar panah-e ‘ahl-e dowlat’ hast khari bishtar.

The grass under the fruit tree gets trampled.

Under the shelter of ‘those in the government’, t’is one more spine.

Vahdat-e Qomi; “The [king’s] brothers, intimates, generals and high military commanders were referred to as ‘ahl-e dowlat’ (‘Those in the Government’), Khandmir, “Qanun-e Homayuni”, in Ma’aser-ol-Moluk, emended by Mir-Hashem Mohaddess, Tehran, 1372/1993, p. 264.

But the ‘ahl-e dowlat’ themselves occasionally fell prey to the Shah’s bloodstained policies. Chardin says that the gory affair of the Safavid kings’ punishments involved their courtiers, intimates and mistresses more often than ordinary people. Chardin, op. cit., vol. 8, pp. 155-6, 196, 242 ff.; Qazi Ahmad, in his Kholasat-ot-Tavarikh, p. 156, and Eskandar-Beik, in his ‘Alam-ara-ye ‘Abbasi, p. 159, also quote a diptych by Khajeh Jalal-ed-Din Mohammad Tabrizi, Shah Esma‘il I’s minister who was cremated alive on Shah Tahmasb’s accession, which attests to this truth:

45-    Gereftam khaneh dar ku-ye bala dar man atash gereft,

  Kasi ku khaneh dar ku-ye bala girad chonin girad.

In an upper street I made my home, and it consumed me.

So will be anyone coming to dwell in upper streets.

Budaq has also recorded this event, on folio 300. See note 19; also see ‘Abdi-Beig, op. cit., pp. 60-1; Rumloo, op. cit., p. 184.

46-Browne, Edward G., A Literary History of Persia, translated by Rashid Yasami, vol. 4, Tehran, Book Foundation, 2nd printing, 1364/1985, pp. 7-35.

47-India was then referred to as Dar-ol-Aman, i.e, ‘Safe Abode’.

48-Qazizadeh Molla Ahmad Tatavi, op. cit., folio 1045, who adds: “… in this country …, whoever he may be and wherever he may come from, is given adequate, nay, more than adequate, education and consideration, and as soon as he manifests a small degree of valor, although the people of this land are all famous for their courage among other nations, he is rewarded in hundred ways. The dignity of …”

In contrast to the appreciation of talents in India, Chardin describes the greatest Safavid kings as men who “… do not appreciate talent, merit or even the importance of assignments, and when they appoint someone to a post, they do so without any concern about its importance…” Chardin, op. cit., vol. 8, p. 169.

49-Ab-ol-Fazl ‘Allami, Akbarnameh, emended by Mowlavi Agha Ahmad ‘Ali & Mowalvi ‘Abd-or-Rahim, vol. 1, New Delhi, p. 220.

50-      Ze ahl-e honar har ke amad barash,

        Begostard zell-e karam bar sarash.

   Upon any artist who joined him,

  He extended the shade of his munificence.

 Rumloo, op. cit., pp. 391-2; a lak was equivalent to 200 Tomans and 100,000 Rupees; Badvani, op. cit., vol. 1, pp. 467-8; Sadeqi-Beik, op. cit., p. 13; Khandmir, op. cit., p. 266.

51-Jahangir Padeshah, in Tuzuk-e Jahangiri, Lucknow, pp. 7-8, who writes, in the first year of his [Homayun’s] reign, that ‘Abd-os-Samad, upon whom

Homayun had bestowed the title of Shirin-Qalam, “… ranked among their auspicious circle’s attending and conversing members …” He adds that this respect towards him continued during the reign of Akbar Shah.

52-Bayazid Bayat, op. cit., pp. 67-8.

53-Some sources record Homayun and Prince Akbar taking painting lessons with Persian painters. See: ‘Allami, Akbarnameh, vol. 2, p. 42; Jahangir Padeshah, op. cit., pp. 18-19.

54-‘Allami, Akbarnameh, vol. 1, p. 342; Bayazid Bayat, op. cit., p. 177.

55-Budaq, op. cit., folios 1320-21; Qazi Ahmad, in his Kholasat-ot-Tavarikh, vol. 1, p. 405, writes about Bayram-Khan: “Bayram-Khan was a pious Shi‘ite man and he greatly revered Seyyeds [descendants of the Holy Prophet of Islam] and devout people. Whoever went that way from Khorasan was warmly received.”; and ‘Abd-ol-Baqi Nahavandi writes about him: “If you wish [to hear about] his humanity, goodwill, generosity and talent, go ask the people of the Inhabited Quarter, particularly the Persians, who have time and again heard about the openhandedness with which this deprived group was treated while he was a vakil and during his reign as Khan-Khan, and about the wealth of gold and silver he lavished upon them when they returned to India…” See: ‘Abd-ol-Baqi Nahavandi, op. cit., vol. 2, p. 59; who records that Shah Tahmasb had given Bayram-Khan the title of Khan-Khan, vol. 2, pp. 19-20.

56-‘Abd-ol-Baqi Nahavandi, op. cit., vol. 2, pp. 515-537, 601; who, for example, writes on page 601: “… In the days when this transformer of India into Persia accessed to the throne of this realm…” In the third volume of his book, he quotes this quatrain about Khan-Khan:

Ta dahr shokuh-e Khan-Khani did,

Bar ‘ahd-e Sekandar o Solayman khandid.

Az bas ke nahadand be dargahash ru,

Iran shod Hend o Hend Iran gardid.

Eternity upon seeing the glory the Khan of Khans,

Laughed at the times of Alexander and Solomon.

So many set out towards his court,

That Persia became India, and India Persia.

Also see Riazul Islam, Indo-Persian Relations, Lahore, 1970, p. 243, and its translation into Persian, Riaz-ol-Eslam, Tarikh-e Ravabet-e Iran va Hend, translated by Mohammad-Baqer Aram & ‘Abbas-Qoli Ghaffari Fard, Tehran, Amir Kabir, 1373/1994, p. 355, where ‘Abd-ol-Baqi Nahavandi is thus quoted: “This (great) man, who transformed India into Persia…”

Elsewhere, Nahavandi writes: “… Persia is India’s school and those with talent learn devices here which they utilize in India in the exalted court of this chieftain…”, vol., 3, p. 46. Also from him is this diptych:

Dar ‘Eraq-e por-nefaq in arezu misuzadam,

Kaz sokhan-sanjan-e bazm-e Khan-e Khanan nistam.

In strife-stricken ‘Eraq I’m consumed by the anguish,

Of not being among the learned in the Khan of Khans’ court.

Vol. 1, p. 13.

57-Samsam-od-Dowleh Shahnavaz-Khan, Tazkere-ye Ma’aser-ol-Omara, emended by Mowlavi Mirza Ashraf, vol. 1, Calcutta, 1309/1930, pp. 696-7 & 709-10. He thus continues: “… In his time, owners of different arts were gathered at his court as in the days of Soltan-Hossein-Mirza and Mir-‘Ali-Shir…”

58-Shahnavaz-Khan, op. cit., vol. 3, p. 408; Mahabat-Khan greatly contributed to the fortification of the foundations of Jahangir’s empire, and later to the formation of Shah Jahan’s. One of his sons, Amanollah (Khan-e Zaman), who wrote by the pen name of Amani, was also very fond of conversing with Persian poets and entertained many of them in his circle. Mirza ‘Abd-on-Nabi Fakhr-oz-Zamani Qazvini, the author of Tazkere-ye Meykhaneh, was his particular librarian. See Tazkere-ye Meykhaneh, emended by Ahmad Golchin-e Ma‘ani, Tehran, 1367/1988, 5th printing, pp. 762-8; Khoshgu thus writes about Mahabat-Khan: “… He was highly perceptive and very patient, dealing generously with his time’s poets and expressing measured admiration for talented orators…”, Khoshgu, op. cit., folios 185-6.

59-Khoshgu, op. cit., folio 24; Concerning the relations between Sa’eb Tabrizi and Zafar-Khan, also see Mirza Mohammad-Taher Nasrabadi, Tazkere-ye Nasrabadi, emended and compared by Vahid Dastgerdi, Tehran, Armaghan Printing House, 1317/1938, pp. 57 & 217-8.

Khan-e Khanan ra be bazm o razm-e Sa’eb dide-am,

Dar sakha-v-o dar shaja‘at chun Zafar-Khan-e to nist.

Man o del cho fariad o afghan mi-konim,

Zafar-Khan, Zafar-Khan, Zafar-Khan konim.

The Khan of Khans I’ve seen apt in Sa’eb’s wars and festivities alike.

In generosity and courage no one equals your Zafar-Khan.

When me and my heart are shouting and moaning,

‘Tis Zafar-Khan, Zafar-Khan, Zafar-Khan we’re repeating.

60-Many Persian artists and poets attribute their success to their migration to India. Sa’eb Tabrizi says in this concern:

Boland-nam nagardad kasi ke dar vatan ast,

Ze naqsh-e sadeh bovad ta ‘aqiq dar Yaman ast.

No one acquires fame in his own country.

Agate seems of little value as long as it’s in Yemen.

As for his own fame, he says:

Pish az in har chand shohrat dasht dar molk-e ‘Eraq,

Seir-e molk-e Hend Sa’eb ra boland-avazeh kard.

Though he was known in the realm of ‘Eraq in the past,

It was his travel to India that made Sa’eb famous.

61-Golchin-e Ma‘ani, Ahmad, Karevan-e Hend, vol. 2, op. cit.

62-Schimmel, Anne-Marie, Islamic Literature of India, translated by Ya‘qub Azhand, Tehran, 1371/1992, p. 37; Thus Persian artists and poets came to be so esteemed in India that being Persian was regarded a special distinction. Khoshgu relates the Indian Molla Shayda’s complaint of being railed by the Persians for being Indian. See Khoshgu, op. cit., folio 210.

63-Brown, Percy, Indian Painting under the Mughal, Oxford, 1924, pp. 56 & 112.

64-Concerning the Hamzehnameh, see ‘Allami, A’in-e Akbari, vol. 1, Calcutta, 1872, p. 117; Badvani, op. cit., vol. 3, p. 211; Shahnavaz-Khan, op. cit., vol. 2, pp. 2-3; and other sources.

65-See note 19.

66-Smith, Vincent A., A History of Fine Art in India and Ceylon, India, 1969, p. 182; Welch, S. C., The Art of Mughal India, New York, 1975, p. 17. Also Dimand, S. M., Rahnama-ye Sanaye‘-e Eslami, translated by ‘Abdollah Faryar, Tehran, Scientific & Cultural Publications Co., 2nd printing, 1365/1986, p. 70.

67-Adle, Ch., “Les artistes nommés Doust-Mohammad au XVIe siècle”, in Studia Iranica, 22.2, 1993, pp. 249, 252, 256.

68-Bayazid Bayat, op. cit., p. 66.

69-‘Allami, A’in-e Akbari, vol. 1, pp. 116-8.

70-Brown, P., op. cit., p. 119.

71-‘Allami, A’in-e Akbari, vol. 1, p. 200.

72-See note 17.

73-Budaq, op. cit., folio 114; Qazi Ahmad, Golestan-e Honar, pp. 140-1; Mostafa ‘Ali Afandi, op. cit., pp. 105-6.

74-Budaq, op. cit.; many art experts believe that Mohammadi was Soltan Mohammad’s son. Mostafa ‘Ali refers to him as Mohammad-Beik. See Mostafa ‘Ali, op. cit., p. 104.

75-Ibid.; Qazi Ahmad also gives explanations about some artists and poets who migrated to India. See Golestan-e Honar, pp. 92, 102-4, 123, etc.; Sadeqi-Beik, op. cit., pp. 77-8 & 90.

76-Gray, Basil, A Glance upon Persian Painting, translated by Firooz Shirvanloo, Tehran, 2535/1976, p. 155; Here Gray is quoting Khandmir.

77-Concerning the migration of Persian physicians to India, see Elgood, Cyril, Medicine in the Safavid Period, translated by Mohsen Javidan, Tehran, Tehran University, 1357/1978, chapter 5, Emigrated physicians and the influence of Persian medicine upon India; ‘Abd-ol-Baqi Nahavandi, op. cit., vol. 3.

78-Molla ‘Abd-on-Nabi Fakhr-oz-Zamani Qazvini, op. cit., p. 761.

79-Ibid., pp. 258-9; Also, on page 631, Hakim ‘Aref Iguy Hendustan is thus quoted: “… I saw an extremely prosperous land and infinitely pleasant and comfortable cities, and so decided to spend my entire lifetime in that land…”

80-Amin Ahmad Razi, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 381; Khaless Estarabadi has thus spoken of India’s attributes:

Ze Khubi-ha-ye Hend in khish bas,

Ke hargez nist kas ra kar ba kas.

Of the qualities of India ‘tis enough to say,

That no one there interferes in anyone else’s affairs.

See Tazkere-ye Maykhaneh, introduction.

It has also been said that:

Shab ra baray-e rahat-e tan afaride-and,

Dar Hend mitavan do se roozi nafas keshid.

The night was created for the body to rest,

In India one can breathe a couple of days.

See Mirza-Mohammad-Taher Nasrabadi, op. cit., p. 184.

81-Brown, P., op. cit., p. 64.

82-Jahangir Padeshah, op. cit., p. 77.

83-Ibid., vol. 2, p. 237.


85-See notes 59 & 60.

86-Brown, P., op. cit., p. 93.

87-In Ma’aser-ol-Omara, we read in this concern: “… God be praised. After this (now that the Persian destiny has been upset and Safavid rule has come to an end) many a member of this family has sought refuge in India, for here royalty has lost its luster and governmental affairs no more enjoy their past worth (to which no attention was paid). Each of them has hastily found an abode and been given a living as soon as his or her kinship with the Supreme Family has been established…” See Shahnavaz-Khan, vol. 3, p. 683.

88-Brown, P., op. cit., p. 148.

89-Riazul Islam, op. cit., p. 227; and its translation into Persian, Riaz-ol-Eslam, op. cit., p. 334, who quotes the Tarikh-e ‘Abbasi manuscript, Bodleian Library, Oxford, folios 48 a-b. This extravagant sentence appears tainted with racial pride. In this concern, see note 62.