123. A Pair of Safavid Tiles

Iran, 17th century
Size: 23 cm square

The subject of these unusually refined Safavid tiles, the drunken Sheikh with loosened girdle, and the beautiful cup-bearer with a bottle of wine and a cup, is frequently encountered in the poetry of Rumi, Nizami, Sa’adi, Hafez and Jami, among others. The wine represents, of course, mystical experience; the youth the ‘circumstances’ in which it becomes available; and the state of the Sheikh the effect of the experience.