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Letter from Crown Prince ‘Abbas Mirza to Napoleon I

  • Accession Number:AKM251
  • Place:Tehran, Iran
  • Dimensions:120 x 58 cm
  • Date:1808
  • Materials and Technique:Opaque watercolour, ink, and gold on paper

Although the main purpose of this diplomatic letter was to seek French support against Russia, one-third of its length is filled with a decorative gold illuminated heading. The magnificent heading was meant to express to its recipient, the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (reigned 1804–14), the importance of the sender, the crown prince ‘Abbas Mirza, son of Qajar ruler Fath ‘Ali Shah (reigned 1797–1834). The broad, empty margin on the right and the exaggerated distance between the written lines were also intended to convey a sense of prominence. Following a long Persian chancery tradition, the letter is written in a controlled nasta‘liq, a cursive, sloping script that evolved in fourteenth-century Iran and was typically used for literary and poetic compositions (AKM227, AKM145).


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