Qajar Tile

Tehran or Isfahan, Iran, 19th century 

20 x 20 cm (7 ⁷/₈ x 7 ⁷/₈ inches)

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Qajar Tile

This square-shaped tile is made of fritware and is decorated in polychrome colours under a transparent glaze set within a geometric border of interlacing palmettes. A male lion and a spotted Persian leopard are depicted in combat with a dragon-like creature with two pairs of wings, four legs, and a snake-like body, suggesting that this is the legendary creature, Azhdaha, who appears in the classical Persian epics such as the Shahnameh. The Azhdaha aims to bite the neck of the lion whilst wrapping its body over his prey. The viewer of the tile is left to decide the outcome of this battle.

Similar Qajar tiles depicting the battle between Azhdaha and a lion can be found in The Victoria & Albert Museum (Accession Numbers: 1495:2-1876; 1495:4-1876; and 1495:7-1876); however, these examples do not include the Persian leopard, which rarely appears in such portrayals.

Qajar Tile