Two demons, fettered

Tinted drawing with additions of gold on paper.

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Historical period(s)
Timurid period, 15th century
Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
H x W (painting): 14.6 × 22.1 cm (5 3/4 × 8 11/16 in)
Iran or Central Asia
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


Central Asia, demon, fiddle, Iran, Timurid period (1378 - 1506)

To at least 1931
Sakisian Collection. [1]

To 1937
Hagop Kevorkian (1872-1962), New York. [2]

From 1937
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Hagop Kevorkian, New York. [3]


[1] Curatorial Remark 3 in the object record.

[2] Curatorial Remark 1 in the object record.

[3] See note 2.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Sakisian Collection
Hagop Kevorkian 1872-1962


Tinted drawing with additions of gold on paper.


Timurid princes were passionate collectors of Chinese luxury goods, a practice that inspired local artists to experiment with the new styles and motifs found on such imports and to integrate them into their own work.

One intriguing and enigmatic series of drawings and paintings that incorporates Chinese pictorial conventions shows monsters and demons (div) in various activities and poses. These wild, highly expressive creatures contrast sharply with the elegant and emotionally reserved men and women typically seen in Timurid paintings and recall Central Asian and Chinese models and techniques. Frequently, the demons appear with familiar objects, as seen in this remarkable tinted drawing. The one on the right, for instance, plays a spiked fiddle (kamancha), a musical instrument that was popular in Iran and Central Asia. His companion holds a gold cup and a Chinese blue-and-white bottle decorated with a writhing dragon. The style and technique of drawing also owes more to Chinese than Persian pictorial conventions. Both ferocious and comical, these fantastic figures are among the most distinct and powerful images created during the fifteenth century.

Published References
  • William Watson. Chinese Style in the Paintings of the Istanbul Albums. no. 1. fig. 210.
  • Georges Marteau, Henri Vever. Miniatures Persanes: tirees des collections de M.M. Henry d'Allemagne, Claude Anet, Henri Aubrey... 2 vols., Paris, June-October 1912. pl. 54.
  • Mazhar Sevket Ipsiroglu, Mehmet Siyahkalem. Siyah Qalem. Graz, Austria. pl. 55.
  • Claus Haase. On the Attribution of Some Paintings in H. 2153 to the Time of Timur. vol. 1. fig. 210.
  • Ernst Grube. The Problem of the Istanbul Album Paintings. vol. 1. fig. 210.
  • Geza Feherari, Phillip Denwood. Metal and Other Objects in Some of the Istanbul Paintings. no. 1. fig. 210.
  • David J. Roxburgh. Turks: A Journey of a Thousand Years, 600-1600. London and New York. fig. 38.
  • Peter Alford Andrews. The Turco-Mongol Contact of Some Objects Shown in the Istanbul Album Pictures. no. 1. fig. 210.
  • Richard Ettinghausen. Some Paintings in Four Istanbul Albums. vol. 1 Washington and Ann Arbor, 1954. pl. 24, fig. 55.
  • Dr. Esin Atil. The Brush of the Masters: Drawings from Iran and India. Exh. cat. Washington, 1978. cat. 10, p. 30.
  • A.M. Kevorkian. Les Jardins du Desir: Sept Siecles de Peinture Persane. Paris. pp. 34-35.
  • Armenag Sakisian. Some Sino-Persian Monsters. vol. 70, no. 407 London, February 1937. pp. 78-81.
  • Laurence Binyon, J.V.S. Wilkinson, Basil Gray. Persian Miniature Painting: A Descriptive Catalogue of the Miniatures Exhibited at Burlington House, January-March 1931. Exh. cat. Oxford, January - March 1931. no. 100, p. 103.
  • George Henry Farmer. Islam. Leipzig. p. 111.
  • Dr. Esin Atil. Emperors, Peris, and Demons in Near Eastern Art. Washington, November 1978. p. 150.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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