Pen Box

Location: Isfahan, Iran

Materials: boxwood body and lift-off lid, painted in opaque watercolour and gold and varnished

Dimensions: 25.5x 4.5 x 3.5cm

Accession Number: LAQ 1

Other Notes:

This pen box, the only one he is known to have painted, is testimony to Mu‘in Musavvir’s versatility [see MSS 1000]. The signature reads, ‘He [God]! Painted by the humble Mu‘in Musavvir.’

The natural light-brown colour of the wood has been used as a ground for the finely painted decoration. The lid bears three separate sprays of flowers, all outlined in gold, with clouds, birds and butterflies between them; it is edged with a band of gold scrollwork on black. Similar designs appear on the sides, but here the use of gold is confined to a few touches. The base bears a series of five cartouches of different types. All five have black grounds, with gold scrollwork decoration in four; the largest, in the centre, contains a bird on a tree. 


N.D. Khalili, B.W. Robinson & T. Stanley, Lacquer of the Islamic Lands, The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, volume XXII, Part One, London 1996, cat.17, pp.42–3.
J.M. Rogers, The Arts of Islam. Masterpieces from the Khalili Collection, London 2010, cat.465, pp.382–3.