EBRĀHĪM SOLṬĀN b. Šāhroḵ, Timurid prince, ruler of Shiraz, military commander, and renowned calligrapher (796-838/1394-35). At his instigation and with his assistance Šaraf-al-Dīn ʿAlī Yazdī wrote his biography of Tīmūr (Tamerlane), the Ẓafar-nāma. Ebrāhīm himself achieved renown as calligrapher, particularly in the ṯolṯ script, which he employed in both Koranic manuscripts and architectural inscriptions.

Šāhroḵ’s second son, Ebrāhīm, was born to Ṭūṭī Ḵātūn, said to be of Narin Mongol stock, in the vicinity of Kars (Qarṣ/Qārṣ) during Tīmūr’s campaign in Georgia on 28 Šawwāl/26 August 1394 (Thackston, p. 245; Šāmī, I, pp. 156-57; Yazdī, I, pp. 504-11). Ebrāhīm’s early years were spent in Tīmūr’s extended household, which included the latter’s wives and young children as well as the wife and children of his progeny. In the summer of 806/1404 he was among the seven grandsons married with great pomp to their female relatives at Samarkand (Yazdī, II, pp. 423-45; Ḥabīb al-sīar III, p. 527), and he had expected to accompany Tīmūr on the ill-fated Chinese campaign (Yazdī, II, pp. 449, 478).

Although Ebrāhīm had served as Šāhroḵ’sdeputy (nāʾeb) at Herat in 810/1407-08 and 811-12/1409, his first independent appointment was governorship of the Balḵ region (Maṭlaʿ-e saʿdayn, ed. Šafīʿ, II, pt. 1, pp. 61, 76, 90; Ḥabīb al-sīar III, p. 566; Ḵᵛāfī, III, p. 188). He was assigned to Shiraz in 817/1414-15 in place of his defeated cousin, Eskandar b. ʿOmar Šayḵ, where he soon was faced with a rebellion that was quelled through Šāhroḵ’s intervention (Maṭlaʿ-e saʿdayn, ed. Šafīʿ, II, pt. 1, pp. 165-66, 177-82, 184-86; Ḵᵛāfī, III, pp. 221-23). Despite this difficult beginning, Ebrāhīm remained in control of Shiraz from 818/1414 until his death in Šawwāl 838/May 1435, and his tenure was generally tranquil. During those years he also participated in military campaigns organized by his father, Šāhroḵ, and was renowned for his role in the Timurid defeat of the Turkmen leader Eskandar b. Qarā Yūsof near Salmās on 17 Ḏu’l-hejja 832/17 September 1429 (Maṭlaʿ-e saʿdayn, ed. Šafīʿ, II, pt. 2, pp. 322-26, 331).

Ebrāhīm’s activities as calligrapher and historian are his most enduring legacy. He is said to have studied calligraphy with a certain Mīr (or Pīr) Moḥammad Šīrāzī (Qāżī Aḥmad, p. 69; Bayānī, Ḵošnevīsān IV, p. 4), but his goal was apparently to follow the tradition of the 13th century Iraqi scribe Yāqūt Mostaʿṣemī. It is even alleged that Ebrāhīm’s writing was sold in the Shiraz bāzār as that of Yāqūt (Effendī, p. 49). Ebrāhīm obtained an inscription by ʿAbd-Allāh Ṣayrafī from Tabrīz and incorporated it in his 820/1417-18 addition to the ʿAtīq Mosque in Shiraz, a building (Dokkān-e ʿemāratī) which he built or repaired in the mosque courtyard (Qāżī Aḥmad, p. 24).

Ebrāhīm copied Korans and prepared monumental inscriptions for execution in carved stone or cut-tile mosaic. His inscriptions were once found on several structures in Shiraz, which he built or repaired, including the ʿAtīq Mosque, a city gate, Saʿdī’s tomb, and a madrasa known as Dār-al-Ṣafā and its dependency, Dār-al-Aytām, a school for orphaned boys (Ḵᵛāfī,III, p. 244; Qāżī Aḥmad, p. 70). One of Ebrāhīm’s inscriptions executed in carved stone is now incorporated into the entrance of the shrine of ʿAlī b. Ḥamza, although it probably once belonged to another structure (Behrūzī, p. 180). Ebrāhīm Solṭān also followed the precedent of earlier Shiraz rulers in leaving his mark on the ruins of Persepolis. There are inscriptions in his name inscribed on the ruins of the palace of Darius commemorating a visit in 826/1422. The longest in nasḵ script, contains an excerpt from Saʿdī’s Būstān recalling the transitory glory of Persia’s past rulers (Moṣṭafawī, tr. Sharp, pp. 105, 221-24, 227). Later, in 835/1431-32, he also designed a cut-tile mosaic inscription of one of Saʿdī’s ḡazals about the equality of the grand and the humble before death for the cenotaph of that poet’s tomb (Qāżī Aḥmad, pp. 70-71).

Ebrāhīm Solṭān’s accomplishments as a calligrapher are best appreciated from Koranic manuscripts, which range in date from 826/1422-23 to 834/1430-31, and are executed in a variety of hands: naskò, ṯolt¯, and moḥaqqaq (or rayḥānī; see CALLIGRAPHY). One (Medina 6) is in Topkapi Sarayi Library (Istanbul), with text both by the 14th-century calligrapher Pīr Yaḥyā Ṣūfī and Ebrāhīm (Karatay, p. 100; the other, dated Ramażān 830/June 1427, is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Jackson, nos. 23-24, pp. 172-76). The most impressive of Ebrāhīm’s manuscripts, however, are large-scale volumes containing Koranic selections written mostly in gold and handsomely illuminated, one of which copied in 827/1424 during a pilgrimage to Mašhad, is kept in the library of Āstān-e Qods (ms. no. 414; Lings, no. 81, 172, pls. on pp. 174-75; Bayānī, Ḵošnevīsān IV, p. 4; Golčīn-e Maʿānī, no. 61, pp. 137-38, pls. on pp. 139, 141). A two-volume set of Koranic excerpts, copied in 834/1430-31, now in the Pārs Museum of Shiraz (ms. no. 430) and locally known as the haftdah man (seventeen-man) Koran, which has acquired a talismanic value, for until 1315 Š./1936 it was kept in a small chamber on top of the northern gate of the city known as the Darvāza-ye Qorʾān. (Behrūzī, pp. 103-04; Emdād, pp. 193-94).

Ebrāhīm Solṭān’s principal intellectual mentor during his years of residence in Shiraz was the scholar Šaraf-al-Dīn ʿAlī Yazdī, whom he assisted in recording his grandfather’s achievements (Yazdī, I, pp. 17-21; Thackston, pp. 63-65). Yazdī inserted praise of Ebrāhīm’s devotion to calligraphy, the Koran, and religious learning in the text’s narrative (I, pp. 15-16, 507-09). Ebrāhīm’s literary tastes reflect various currents of the period. He supported a Turki poet from Ḵᵛārazm who took the pen name of Ḥāfeẓ, with the avowed aim of producing Turki equivalents to the poetry by Hāfeẓ (Hofiz Khorazmiy, Devon, 2 vols., Tashkent, 1981).

Among the manuscripts produced by Ebrāhīm’s court scribes are Rūmī’s Maṯnawī dated to 822/1419, now in Gulbankian Collection, Lisbon (Gray, ed., Arte do Oriente, no. 119), a Kollīyāt of Saʿdī dated to 829/1425-26, now in Lahore at the Punjab University (Bayānī, Ḵošnevīsān III, p. 911), a copy of the Ṣaḥīḥ of Boḵārī (Fayż-Allāh, no. 489) dated to 832/1429, and an illustrated but undated anthology containing Kalīla wa Demna, Marzbān b. Rostam’s Marzbān-nāma, and Sendbād-nāma (Fāteḥ, ms. no. 3682), both now in the Sülaymanīya Library in Istanbul (Gray, 1979, pp. 121, 140, fig. 77).

The most famous manuscripts connected with Ebrāhīm are an illustrated but undated copy of Ferdowsī’s Šāh-nāma, now in the Bodleian Library, Oxford (Ousley Add. 176; Sims, 1992, pp. 45-48) and a dispersed copy of Yazdī’s Ẓafar-nāma. completed at Shiraz in 839/1436, after his death (Sims, 1991, pp. 175-237; idem, 1992a, pp. 132-43).


Bibliography: (For cited works not given in detail, see “Short References.”)

ʿA.-N. Behrūzī, Banāhā-ye tārīḵī wa āṯār-e honarī-e jolga-ye Šīrāz, Shiraz, 1349 Š./1970.

L. Binyon, J. V. S. Wilkinson, and B. Gray, Persian Miniature Painting, Oxford, 1933, no. 46, pp. 68-68; pls. XXXVIII-XL.

Moṣṭafā ʿAlī Effendī, Manāqeb-e honarvarān, tr. T. Ḥ. Sobḥānī, Tehran, 1370 Š./1991.

Ḥ. Emdād, Šīrāz dar goḏašta wa ḥāl, Shiraz, 1339 Š./ 1960.

A. Golčīn-e Maʿānī, Rāhnemā-ye ganjīna-ye Qorʾān, Mašhad, 1347 Š./1968.

B. Gray, ed., Arte do Oriente Islâmico Colecção da Fundação Calouste Gulbankian, Lisbon, 1963, no. 119.

Idem, ed., The Art of the Book in Central Asia, Paris, 1979.

A. V. Williams Jackson, A Catalogue of Persian Manuscripts, New York, 1914.

D. James, Qurʾāns of the Mamlūks, London, 1988.

Faṣīḥ Aḥmad Ḵᵛāfī, Majmal-e faṣīḥī, ed. M. Farroḵ, 3 vols., Mašhad, 1339-41/1960-62.

F. E. Karatay, Topkapi Sarayi Müzesi Kütüphanesi Arapça Yazmalar Kataloğu, Istanbul, 1962.

T. Lentz and G. Lowery, Timur and the Princely Vision, Los Angeles, 1989.

M. Lings, The Quranic Art of Calligraphy and Illumination, Westerham, 1976.

B. F. Manz, The Rise of Tamerlane, Cambridge, 1989.

M.-T. Moṣṭafawī, Eqlīm-e Pārs, tr. R. N. Sharp as The Land of Pārs, Chipenham, Wilts, 1978.

Rieu, Persian Manuscripts, pp. 126-27.

B. W. Robinson, Descriptive Catalogue of the Persian Paintings in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, 1958, pp. 16-17. Ṣafā, Adabīyāt IV, p. 118.

Neẓām-al-Dīn Šāmī, Ẓafar-nāma, ed., F. Tauer, 2 vols., Prague, 1937.

E. Sims, “Ebrāhīm-Sulṭān’s Illustrated Ẓafar-nāma of 839/1436,” Islamic Art 4, 1991.

Idem, “Ibrahim-Sultan’s Illustrated Zafername of 1436 and its Impact in the Muslim East” in L. Golombek and M. Subtelny, eds., Timurid Art and Culture. Iran and Central Asia, Leiden, 1992a.

Idem, “Illustrated Manuscripts of Firdausī’s Shāhnāma Commissioned by Princes of the House of Timur,” Ars Orientalis 22, 1992b.

I. Stchoukine, Les peintures des manuscrits Tîmûrides, Paris, 1954, no. XIX, p. 43, pl. XXII.

Abū Bakr Ṭehrānī, Ketāb-e dīārbakrīya, 2 vols., ed. N. Lugal and F. Sümer, Ankara, 1964, I, pp. 85, 87.

W. M. Thackston, ed. and tr., A Century of Princes, Cambridge, Mass., 1989.

D. Wilber, The Architecture of Islamic Iran. The Ilkhanid Period, Princeton, 1955.

Šaraf-al-Dīn ʿAlī Yazdī, Ẓafar-nāma, ed. M. ʿAbbāsī, 2 vols., Tehran, 1336 Š./1957.

(Priscilla P. Soucek)

Originally Published: December 15, 1997

Last Updated: December 8, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. VIII, Fasc. 1, pp. 76-78