The mid‑sixteenth century saw the flourishing of the so‑called saz style—characterized by the depiction of stylized, 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 Suleiman the Magnificent.
Signature: In nast'aliq script: Work of Shah Quli, by way of an exercise
Inscription: The inscription in nasta'liq script reads: "Work of Shah Quli, by way of an exercise"
In Arabic language and in nastaʻliq script
عمل شاه قولي علی طریق المشق
The work of Shāh Qulī as an exercise
The Iranian Institute. "Exhibition of Persian Art," 1940, Gal. VII, 99D.
Venice. Fondazione Giorgio Cini. "Miniature Islamiche dal XIII al XIX Secolo," 1962, no. 78.
Ackerman, Phyllis. "The Iranian Institute, New York." In Guide to the Exhibition of Persian Art. 2nd. ed. New York: The Iranian Institute, 1940. no. Gallery VII; case 99D, p. 206.
Grube, Ernst J. "from Collections in the United States and Canada." In Muslim Miniature Paintings from the XIII to XIX Century. Venice: N. Pozza, 1962. no. 78, pp. 99-100, ill. pl. 78 (b/w).
Meredith-Owens, G. Turkish Miniatures. London, 1969. p. 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 Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, edited by Richard Ettinghausen. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1972. p. 292, ill. fig. 2 (b/w).
Ettinghausen, Richard. "Islamic Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin vol. 33, no. 1 (Spring 1975). pp. 42-43 (b/w).
Grube, Ernst J. Studies in Islamic Painting. London: Pindar Press, 1995. p. 325, ill. fig. 21 (b/w).
Bernus-Taylor, Marthe. "Musee du Louvre 23 avril–23 juillet 2001." In L'Etrange et le Merveilleux en Terres d'Islam. Paris: Musée du Louvre, 2001. no. 81, pp. 92-93, 115, ill.
Ekhtiar, Maryam, Sheila R. Canby, Navina Haidar, and Priscilla P. Soucek, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 202, pp. 6, 287, 290-92, ill. p. 291 (color).
Denny, Walter B. How to Read Islamic Carpets. New Haven and London: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014. p. 79, ill. fig. 65 (color).