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Carved wood mirror case
Persian, Qajar Dynasty, 19th century

Carved wood mirror case

A rectangular carved wood mirror case with hinged cover. Both sides of the case are carved in fine detail with a central panel of birds on a rosebush amid hyacinths, primroses and other blossoms, bordered by formal, continuous design of stylised flowers and leaves. The exterior of the case is covered in layers of clear lacquer, giving it a light brown finish. A design of naturalistic flowers and leaves is painted directly onto the inside of the cover, which has metal hinges and a clasp.

Carved wood mirror case

• The tradition for luxury objects begun by the Safavids in the 17th century was continued under the Persian Qajars. Mirror cases in this style were more commonly produced in papier-mâché or painted lacquer. According to Persian poetry, the bird symbolizes the lover, while the rose is his beloved. On this exquisite mirror case this Persian sensibility is integrated with an interest in European botanical studies. The Qajar dynasty was the ruling family of Persia from 1781 to 1925. Various mirror cases from the Qajar dynasty are in the Khalili collection.1 Stylistically the decorative composition is comparable to a sheet of illuminated calligraphy by Muhammad Ja’far Shirazi.2

1 Khalili, N. D. and Robinson B.W.: Lacquer of the Islamic Lands, Vol. X, the Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, London 1996, page 35 no. 13; page 109 no. 73; page 142, no 106
2 Robinson, B.W., chapter in: Treasure of Islam, Geneva 1985 page 192, no. 180

Height: 8 1/ 4 inches; 21 cm
Width: 5 1/ 4 inches; 13.5 cm


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