IMG_7431Friday Photo is back! And today, I have for you an illustration of a dervish painted by the artist Riza ‘Abbasi in the 1630s. Dervishes were adherents of mystical forms of Islam that emerged early in the Middle Ages and persist even today. Unlike mainstream Muslims, dervishes (or sufis) placed greater emphasis on their personal relationship with God and quest for spirituality than on, for example, attending Friday service. For this reason, although many sufis were influential councillors to powerful sultans and shahs, they could also be viewed with suspicion by the religious establishment. This image is interesting because it is not attached to a specific text; instead, it was a stand-alone piece that would have been pasted into an album of different works. Although Shiism was predominant in Safavid lands at this time, this image of a dervish demonstrates continued interest in the more mystical forms of Islamic faith.

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