This rare depiction of Shah Isma'il I (r.1501-1524), founder of the Safavid Dynasty, receiving the blessing of his ancestor Shaykh Safi al-Din, is a powerful statement of Safavid legitimacy throughout the ages.
The Safavids took their name from Shaykh Safi al-Din of Ardebil in Azeberbaijan (1252-1334). Shaykh Safi al-Din was the spiritual heir and son in law of the great Sufi Murshid (Grand Master) Shaykh Zahed Gilani, of Lahijan in Gilan Province in northern Iran. Shaykh Safi al-Din inherited Shaykh Zahed Gilani's Sufi order, the "Zahediyeh", which he later transformed into his own, the "Safaviyeh". Over the following 170 years, the Safaviyeh Order gained political and military power, finally culminating in the foundation of the Safavid Dynasty.
In 1501 Shah Isma'il I, the first of the Safavid kings, defeated the Aq Qoyunlu, seizing Azeberbaijan and over the next ten years consolidated his realm to include all of Iran.