Iran, Isfahan or Tehran
dated 1286 (1869–70 AD)
20 papier-mâché sections, painted and varnished; pivoted at the base and formerly connected by a ribbon that has now perished
24 x 3.6cm (closed); 24.2 x 46cm (open)
The sections of the fan have a ground of gold scrollwork on black, or polychrome floral scrolls on gold. Each section bears a bust or half-length portrait of a young man or woman at the wide end, a small panel painted with flowers on a black ground half-way down, and a small panel or a roundel containing an inscription near the pivot. As the sections of the fan have been mixed up, the inscriptions are difficult to reconstruct.
One is of a documentary nature and reads, ‘[This fan] assumed the appearance of completion in the workshop of Aqa Sayyid Muhammad during the eternal reign of the Sultan, son of the Sultan, son of the Sultan, son of the Sultan, Nasir al-Din Shah Qajar – May God make his kingship and sovereignty last for ever!’ Some of the roundels contain fragments of a similar text, which also gives the date. The remaining inscriptions are poetic quotations, but only one, a couplet by Hafiz, can be reconstructed with certainty.
The backs of the sections are painted black and bear coarse decoration in gold. The last is inscribed, ‘[Made] in the workshop of the Sayyid for the lady wife (? –zanah-i) of the Hakim-bashi’.
N.D. Khalili, B.W. Robinson & T. Stanley, Lacquer of the Islamic Lands, The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, volume XXII, Part Two, London 1997, cat.312, pp.104.