'Saz'-style Drawing of a Dragon amid Foliage

Artist: Shah Quli (Turkish, born Tabriz, Iran, active ca. mid-16th century)

Object Name: Illustrated single work

Date: ca. 1540–50

Geography: Attributed to Turkey, Istanbul

Medium: Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper

Dimensions: Painting: H. 6 13/16 in. (17.3 cm)
W. 10 11/16in. (27.2cm)
Mat: H. 16 in. (40.6 cm)
W. 22 in. (55.9 cm)
Frame : H. 17 in. (43.2 cm)
W. 23 in. (58.4 cm)

Classification: Codices

Credit Line: Bequest of Cora Timken Burnett, 1956

Accession Number: 57.51.26


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.