Shah Quli
16th Century Persian painter



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Shah Quli
16th Century Persian painter
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More about Shah Quli

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Shah Quli was a Persian painter responsible for founding and spreading the “saz uslubu” (reed style) that permeated Ottoman murals and paintings throughout the empire during his time.

His use of dragons and other fantastical creatures amongst larger than life foliage was a byproduct of the Tabriz school of painting, characterized by the adoption of Chinese art styles into the animal and plants of Islamic art. He was a student of Āqā Mīrak, who himself had an illustrious pedigree as a direct descendant of Muhammad and whose work was characterized by vibrant, richly-detailed portraiture. From Mīrak, Quli learned how to paint, embroider, and write poetry under the alias of Alwani.

Quli was brought to Amasya following Sultan Selim’s victory at the Battle of Chaldiran in 1514. When his son Suleyman’s ascended to the throne in 1520, he became the highest paid artist in the realm and was head of the royal atelier in Istanbul for forty-two years, applying what he learned in Tabriz toward Ottoman murals, paintings, and drawings. Some of Quli’s repertoire under the Magnificent’s reign include the wall panels of the Circumcision Room in the Topkapi Palace, designs for carpets used in court, and the illumination of a copy of "Joseph and Zuleika" by the fifthteenth-century poet Jami.

The Ottoman Empire under Suleyman saw itself expand into its greatest reach, going as far west as to border Austria and as far east as Iraq. With greater reach came greater economic growth and globalization, leading to a boom in cultural, societal and artistic developments that cemented the reign of Suleyman as a golden age and gave him the titles “Magnificent” and “Lawgiver.” With Suleyman’s influence, Quli became one the Ottoman Empire’s most prolific artists. Even with him long gone, the “saz uslubu” can be seen in mosques, schools, the tiles of the Dome of the Rock, and in the later additions to the holy sites of Mecca and Medina.




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