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Hanceri leaf and dragon

Turkey, Istanbul, c. 1570-1580, early 20th century (margins)
Pounce drawing, ink on paper; stenciled margins
Painting: H. 20.8 cm; W. 13.3 cm
Page: H: 53.1 cm; W. 40.5 cm
Musée du Louvre, purchased 1996
Mao 1204

A deep black curve following the central vein of a large spiky hanceri leaf constitutes the principal axe of the drawing. On the left, tufts of leaves are arranged diagonally above the head of a dragon opposite a large composite hatayi flower. The dragon weaves its way through the diagonally-positioned, flower-laden leaves, drawing the eye of the spectator towards a second dragon with a menacing-looking mouth, placed directly above the first. As the mottled body of the dragon sways from side to side along the strong black line of the central vein, its tail becomes lost in the mass of leaves. The drawing plays on the contrast between solid and lighter lines, and recalls the spirit of the finest calligraphic examples of the saz style. Touches of deeper black enliven the whole work.
Textiles, leather bindings and saz style ceramics produced for the Ottoman court are generally different from graphic creations in that they do not display such strange creatures as the dragons, kilin and peri which abound in album leaves. So far none of the saz style drawings or paintings we know of are dated.

Hanceri leaf and dragon
Hanceri leaf and dragon
MAO 1204
© RMN / Bellot 01-000386