A floral fantasy of animals and birds (Waq-waq)

A floral fantasy of animals and birds (Waq-waq)

early 1600s

Opaque watercolor and gold on paper

Page: 37.6 x 26.6 cm (14 13/16 x 10 1/2 in.)

Gift in honor of Madeline Neves Clapp; Gift of Mrs. Henry White Cannon by exchange; Bequest of Louise T. Cooper; Leonard C. Hanna Jr. Fund; From the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection 2013.319

Fun Fact

The dragon threatens to singe the boar’s beard.

Description

Derived ultimately from a conflation of medieval Persian and Koranic sources, including descriptions of the mythical island of Waq-waq inhabited by half-plant/half-animal creatures, this extraordinary painting depicts a plant that brings forth animal life in multiple forms. Playfully rendered with animals both real and mythic and birds that seem to effervesce away as they break free of the stems, this brilliant rendition of a life-giving plant maintains its compositional integrity, even as it sprawls across the page. This painting was made to beguile courtly connoisseurs who would gather to admire the wondrous images in an imperial album.

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