Caravaggio (1571-1610), The Fortune Teller (Second Ed. Detail)
Oil on canvas, 1595
CHINESE IMPORTS IN OTTOMAN ART
Lion and Qilin, Dragon and Bird
with floral background
Mid-16th century / Ottoman period
Ink, color and gold on paper
Animals in ferocious combat are a recurring theme in sixteenth-century Ottoman art.
In this remarkable drawing, a lion devours a Qilin, an animal of Chinese legend, while a dragon is about to swallow a frightened bird perched helplessly on its tongue.
- Although the ch’i-lin and dragon were inspired by Chinese models, the depiction of these animals as fearsome,
- battling creatures is alien to Chinese art and is more characteristic of Ottoman and Persian pictorial language.
- The composition is noteworthy for its use of undulating lines, which lend tremendous energy and vitality.
(Smithsonian Museums of Asian Art)
Qilin (麒麟) refers to a chimerical creature known throughout East Asia, often depicted with what looks like fire all over its body. Europeans thought of it as the Chinese version of a unicorn.
Lucas Cranach the Elder, Lucretia’s Suicide (detail) 1509-10.
Celestial clockwork globe. 1579, Vienna, Austria.
Source: Met Museum