Tile panel

Tile panel depicting a man fleeing from lions
Isfahan (?) (Iran)
17th cent.
Glazed pottery; 120 x 95 cm
inv. IS.38


The Safavid shah Abbas the Great installed his capital at Isfahan where he undertook a major building programme. Colourful tile panels in cuerda seca technique, often with narrative or moralizing themes, became a popular decorative item.

The scene depicted here was part of a larger narrative panel. The story seems to have been taken from the Shahnameh, the Persian national epic by the poet Ferdowsi. It illustrates an episode in which a young rider who had foolishly hung his weapons in a plane tree to sit and enjoy wine at its foot is left with no option but to climb the three to escape a pair of lions.

The narrative style is in keeping with that of Safavid miniatures. Animals and plants typically fill the landscape and the rendering of the clouds reflects a Chinese influence. 

Discover this masterpiece on the online museum catalogue Carmentis, in the gallery 'Art of the Islamic World' and in the book Masterpieces of the Cinquantenaire Museum.