Lion, ch’i-lin, and dragon set in floral sprays

Historical period(s)
Ottoman period, mid-16th century
Medium
Ink, color and gold on paper
Dimensions
H x W: 17.5 x 28.5 cm (6 7/8 x 11 1/4 in)
Geography
Turkey
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1948.17
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Drawing
Type

Album leaf with drawing

Keywords
dragon, flower, guardian lion, lion, Ottoman period (1307 - 1922), qilin, Turkey, WWII-era provenance
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Label

Animals in ferocious combat are a recurring theme in sixteenth-century Ottoman art. In this remarkable drawing, a lion devours a ch'i-lin, a Chinese mythical animal, while a dragon is about to swallow a frightened bird perched helplessly on its tongue.  Although the ch'i-lin and dragon were inspired by Chinese models, the depiction of these animals as fearsome, battling creatures is alien to Chinese art and is more characteristic of Ottoman and Persian pictorial language.

The composition is noteworthy for its use of undulating lines, which lend tremendous energy and vitality to the contorted bodies of the animals and the scrolling floral vine. This particular style of drawing, one of the most impressive achievements of sixteenth-century Ottoman art, also adapted to ceramic and tile designs.

Published References
  • Richard Ettinghausen. Studies in Muslim Iconography I: The Unicorn. vol. 1, no. 3 Washington. pl. 45.
  • Ideals of Beauty: Asian and American Art in the Freer and Sackler Galleries. Thames and Hudson World of Art London and Washington, 2010. pp. 120-121.
  • Dr. Esin Atil. Ottoman Art at the Freer Gallery. Istanbul. p. 192.
  • Dr. Esin Atil. Ottoman Art at the Freer Gallery of Art. no. 4 Istanbul, 1970-1971. p. 192.
  • Turkish Art. Washington and New York. pp. 194-195, fig. 90.
  • Exhibition of Persian Art. Exh. cat. New York. p. 206.
  • Ernst Grube. Miniatures in Istanbul Libraries. Munich. p. 225.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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