A. S. Melikian-Chirvani, The Iranian Painter, the Metaphorical Hermitage, and the Christian Princess
The “hexagonal hermitage” of the world. Tabriz, 15th c.
The verses calligraphed on pages of Iranian book painting relate to the
painted theme and also supply a commentary, while secondary details in
the image itself visually convey notions expressed in Persian
literature which back up the central theme of these verses. The lack of
interest in these verses has led to a misunderstanding of a remarkable
manuscript painting which survives on a single page from an
unidentified manuscript now kept in the Topkapi Saray Museum in
Istanbul. Here the two Persian couplets painted on the monument
pictured transcribe the literary metaphor of the monastery seen as a
symbol of the world.
The verses and the image, taken together, tell us that the painting
and, presumably, the manuscript to which it belonged, were composed for
a Christian person high up in the royal entourage. At its likely period
of execution, the second half of the 9/15th century, such a commission
fits only Theodora Komnene, the Greek consort of Sultan Hasan of the
Aqquyunlu dynasty in control of Western Iran.