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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Hunting Scene

Photo: Paul Macapia

Hunting Scene

16th century

A hunt was one of the most popular pastimes of the aristocracy in the Islamic world.  Hunting skill was closely associated with power and privilege and considered an indicator of military prowess. This association lasted for thousands of years in the Near East and dates back as far as the Assyrian, Achaemenid, and Sassanian empires. Hunting scenes are particularly prevalent in Islamic art. Images often portray animals in combat or battles between animals and men. These scenes are found in a variety of media, including textiles, ceramics, metalwork, ivory, monumental painting and manuscript painting.
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
23 1/8 x 19 1/8 in.
Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection
Photo: Paul Macapia
Now on view at the Asian Art Museum

Art for the Palace/Tent

Secular Islamic manuscripts feature a variety of themes-some of them fantastic and mythical-illustrating popular literary and poetic works. Other manuscripts represent the lives and daily activities of the people who commissioned them-royal and elite patrons who populated the court in the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries.

The imagery in these secular Islamic manuscripts mirrors the lives of people in the upper levels of society and depicts their favorite pastimes. The images display a high degree of fantasy: court figures and rulers are represented in an ideal form, as they wished to be seen rather than the way they actually were. A certain tension exists between the real and the imaginary. One cannot be truly certain if what one sees is historically accurate.
The Alhambra, Grenada, Spain
Photo: Jaron Berman


Karen Mathews, Assistant Professor of Art History, University of Miami, discusses art for the palace or tent


Published ReferencesRogers, Millard B. "Engagement Book: Iranian Art in the Seattle Art Museum," Seattle, WA: Seattle Art Museum, 1972, fig. 43.

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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