Abu'l Fath Pir Budaq (d.1466) was the eldest son of the Qaraquyunlu ruler Jahanshah (r.1439-1467). Pir Budaq clearly sought to project himself not only as a Prince but more as a ruler in his own right. Following the conquest of Central Iran from the Timurid rulers, Pir Budaq was awarded the governorship of Shiraz, where he began to act with increasing independence and defiance towards his father. He became an important patron of the arts, a channel through which he sought to confirm his own royal identity. Accordingly, this right-hand half of a frontispiece from an unidentified manuscript perfectly illustrates the regal figure of Pir Budaq enjoying all the fruits of kingship though without wearing the royal crown.
There are very few illustrated manuscripts which we can attribute to the reign of Pir Budaq. The very existence of this particular style of Turkman court painting was traditionally overlooked and not fully recognized as a specific school of its own. This was mainly due to the fact that other dated illustrated manuscripts of the mid-15th century seem to be composed of various Timirud styles, and include works by artists from the important centres of Herat and Shiraz. A Shahnama of Firdawsi in the Aga Khan collection, dated to 1457, is an interesting example of how these various schools of Timurid painting were combined and altered into a new style produced for the Turkman courts (Anthony Welch and Stuart Cary Welch, Arts of the Islamic Book. The Collection of Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, London, 1982, no.16, pp.57-60). It was the vision of Pir Budaq that brought these different styles together as a unified school which B.W. Robinson termed 'Turkman Court Painting'(B.W. Robinson, Fifteenth-Century Persian Painting. Problems and Issues, London, 1991, pp.29-30). Our painting shows clear influence from earlier Shiraz painting from the Timurid era but shows new innovations particularly in the realm of portraiture. The figure of Pir Budaq with his narrow high-set turban and the refined detail of the draped robes sets this apart from earlier Shirazi works (B.W. Robinson, op.cit., pl.11, pp.29-30). An illustration to the Gulistan of Sa'di dated to circa 1470 now in the Keir Collection is a later example of the fully formed 'Turkman Court style'. It uses similar turbans to those on our present painting, but lacks some of the more typically Shirazi features of the rocky outcrops and the finely decorated tent and textiles (inv.III.127, B.W. Robinson, et.al, Islamic painting and the Arts of the Book, London, 1976, pl.14, p.158).
Pir Budaq was forcibly moved to Baghdad from Shiraz due to repeated challenges that he made to his father's rule. However the move of his court to Baghdad did not end his dream of kingship. There he asserted his autonomy by striking coins in his own name and replacing his father's name with his own in the Friday sermon. The extraordinary patronage of the arts by Pir Budaq continued and he commissioned some wonderfully illuminated manuscripts. A fine manuscript copied for Pir Budaq in Baghdad was sold in these Rooms, 6 October 2011, lot 124. Unfortunately Pir Budaq's rule was not long-lived. His father Jahanshah soon tired of his insolence, and eventually marched on Baghdad. After a siege of eighteen months he took the city and killed Pir Budaq. Thus ended a short but brilliant era of artistic patronage.