One of the classical features of landscape in Persian manuscript-illustration is a stream of water. Painted in silver, it winds its way through a picture in a manuscript, punctuating the ground with verdant green on either side, even though the stream itself may have tarnished with centuries of exposure to the air.
Among a small group of paintings kept in several of the celebrated Hazine albums in the Topkapi Saray Library in Istanbul, the group that Ernst J. Grube, in 1980, had called ‘Chinese People’, one stands out, the cover-illustration to an exhibition in London in 2005. There entitled ‘Enthronement Scene’, it is unlike its closest companion-parallels, which have unpainted grounds but no naturally occurring water in the landscape: it has a surface almost fully covered in pigment; but at its very bottom can be seen the tarnished remains of ‘a silver stream in the foreground’.
Placed variously on a continuum stretching ‘between China and Iran’, since about 1972, the prevailing attribution has been to Aq Quyunlu Tabriz around 1480. Given ‘the silver stream in its foreground’, this article re-examines that attribution and proposes that it may be as much as a century earlier but ‘modernised’, given a fully painted landscape, at Ya'qub Beg's court in Tabriz.