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Tile panel with man running from lions
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    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.