Safavid Courtiers Leading Georgian Captives

Object Name: Panel

Date: mid-16th century

Geography: Attributed to Iran

Medium: Silk, metal wrapped thread; lampas

Dimensions: Textile: L. 47 1/2 in. (120.7 cm)
W. 26 1/2 in. (67.3 cm)
Mount: L. 53 in. (134.6 cm)
W. 32 1/8 in. (81.6 cm)
D. 1 in. (2.5 cm)
Wt. 31 lbs. (14.1 kg)

Classification: Textiles-Woven

Credit Line: Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1952

Accession Number: 52.20.12


This textile, nearly full width, depicts a Safavid prince on horseback and a child riding pillion; behind them, an adult male captive is led by a chain. It is one of only thirteen extant silks, probably fashioned as garments, that depict some variation on this theme using similar techniques and enhanced by metal threads. These compositions do not appear in contemporary manuscript painting, but correlate with Shah Tahmasp’s military campaigns between 1540 and 1553; they may have been produced as part of a propaganda campaign to encourage confidence in Safavid military might. The captives are identified as Georgian men, women, and children. The mythical simurgh bird watches the scene from a nearby tree, above the prisoner’s head.