Sadiqi Beg

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Sadiqi Beg, also referred to as Sadiqi Beg Afshar (1533 Tabriz–1610 Isfahan), was a Persian poet, biographer, draftsman, soldier and miniaturist of the Safavid period.[1][2]


Born in Tabriz into the Afshar tribe, one of the Turkish tribal groups that engendered the Safavid rise to power, Sadiqi was a soldier by family tradition. In 1568, however, he asked his pupil and nephew Muzaftar Ali, reputedly an incomparable figure painter, to teach him the art of the well-known earlier artist Bihzad.[3]

Sadiqi's native language was Chaghatai, and he wrote biographical sketches of some of the era's leading poets, artists and connoisseurs in that language. He also wrote the famous Qanun as-Suwar (Canons of Painting) between 1576 and 1602, a treatise on painting techniques in Persian verse. His writings are one of the major sources on the history of Persian miniature painting. He reportedly "painted thousands of marvellous portraits".[3][4]

Sadiqi was head of the royal library in Qazwin from 1587 to 1598, under Shah Abbas I, whom he had impressed years earlier. He had previously served under Shah Isma'il II, who ruled from 1576 to 1577,[2] after which he withdrew to Hamadan and later to Lahijan and to Yazd.[3]

Examples of Sadiqi's work are in a number of museums. A 3-inch by 6-inch (7.62 cm by 15.24 cm) gouache miniature on gold paper, Portrait d'une jeune femme assise sur un rocher, attributed to Sadiqi from 1590, sold at auction in Paris in 1996 for 80,000 French francs (15,792 U.S. dollars; 12,604 euros; or 10,301 British pounds).[5] Some scholars, such as B. W. Robinson, attribute the 107 miniatures in a 1593 version of Anwar i-Suhayli (a book of fables) to Sadiqi, although others, such as Basil Gray, think that they appear to be by several artists, not all of the same quality. The manuscript, in the collection of the Marquess of Bute, is inscribed to "Sadiqi Beg, the rarity of the age, the second Mani, the Bihzad of the time".[2][3]

Overbearing and outspoken, he fell from office in 1598, although he retained his title and salary. His last royal work was on an edition of the Shahnameh (Book of Kings), part of which is at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin.[2]


  1. ^ John W. O'Malley, The Jesuits: Cultures, Sciences, and the Arts, 1540-1773, Vol.I, (University of Toronto Press, 1999), 390:"The seventeenth-century Persian art theorist, Sadiqi Beg Afshar...".
  2. ^ a b c d Lawrence Gowing, ed. "Sadiqi Beg" in A Biographical Dictionary of Artists. New York: Facts on File (U.S. ed.)/Abingdon, Oxfordshire: Andromeda Oxford Ltd. (U.K.)
  3. ^ a b c d Basil Gray, Chapter 16(b) in The Cambridge History of Iran (in Seven Volumes), vol. 6, Peter Jackson and Laurence Lockhart, ed., p. 889-900. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986, ISBN 0-521-20094-6
  4. ^ Barry, Michael (2004). Figurative Art in Medieval Islam and the Riddle of Bihzah of Herat. Paris: Flammarion. p. 186. ISBN 2-0803-0421-6.
  5. ^[dead link]