DŪST-MOḤAMMAD MOṢAWWER (also Dūst-e Dīvāna “fool, eccentric,” Dūst-e Moṣawwer; d. India in 1560 or shortly afterward), master painter, not to be confused with the contemporary calligrapher Dūst-Moḥammad b. Solaymān (Ḏ¨okāʾ). It is remotely possible that he was identical with Dūst-Moḥammad b. ʿAbd-Allāh Heravī Qāṭeʿ (Adle, 1993, pp. 235-38; see CUT PAPER).

Dūst-Moḥammad was renowned in the Indo-Persian world and even among the Ottomans as a painter (moṣawwer), paper cutter (qāṭeʿ), calligraphic tracer/outliner (moḥarrer), and perhaps binder (saḥḥāf) and gilder (moḏahheb). Bodāq Monšī (fols. 111v-112r), secretary to the Safavid prince Bahrām Mīrzā, a great collector and connoisseur and very well informed about art, characterized the artist as the best pupil of Behzād. When Behzād was appointed head of the court scriptorium by Shah Esmāʿīl I (907-30/1501-24; Ḵᵛāndamīr, fols. 152b-54b) in about 1520 (Akimushkin, p. 142), Dūst-Moḥammad may have accompanied him. Later he was among the artists with whom Shah Ṭahmāsb (930-84/1524-76) surrounded himself when he succeeded his father at the age of ten years in 930/1524 (Bodāq fols. 296a-b). Four paintings in Bahrām Mīrzā’s album of 951/1544 (Topkapı Sarayı Library, Istanbul, ms. no. H. 2154, fols. 71a, 121b, 138b, 140b; Adle, 1990; idem, 1993, figs. 9-12; Plate LVI) and “Haftvād’s daughter finding the magic worm in her apple” (Sadruddin Aga Khan’s collection, Geneva, ms. no. M. 199; Dickson and Welch, I, pl. 14) date from the period when he was in the shah’s service. The last was part of the great Šāh-nāma made for Ṭahmāsb, known to contemporaries as Šāh-nāma-ye šāhī “the shah’s Šāh-nāma” (Dūst-Moḥammad Heravī in the Moraqqaʿ of Bahrām Mīrzā, fol. 17a; tr. Thackston, p. 348), which was dismembered in the 1970s.

A heavy drinker (Bāyazīd, p. 66), Dūst-Moḥammad seems to have been not much affected by the shah’s ban on drink after his own “first repentance” (tawba) in 940/1532, as he was close to Behzād, whose drinking the shah feigned to ignore (Bodāq, fol. 111b; Adle, 1993, pp. 238-42). Conditions changed when Behzād died in 942/1535-36 (Dūst-Moḥammad Heravī, fol. 16b; tr. Thackston, p. 347) and the shah’s interest in the arts began to wane. Dūst-Moḥammad left Persia in the late 1530s and joined the Mughal prince Kāmrān b. Bābor, who had royal ambitions and had rebelled against his brother, the Mughal emperor Homāyūn (937-63/1530-56, with interruption), in Kabul no later than the 1530s (Bāyazīd, p. 66; Lowick, pp. 159-60; Adle, 1993, pp. 244-48). When Homāyūn took Kabul on his return from Persia in 952/1545 Dūst-Moḥammad joined his court; in the late 1540s he was still the leading artist in Kabul (Bāyazīd, pp. 66, 69; Adle, 1993, pp. 249-51). In 957/1550 he painted one of his best works, “Homāyūn and Hendāl in the orange grove of a Kabul mountain pass” (“Jahāngīr album,” Staats-bibliothek Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Orientabt., Berlin, ms. no. Libr. Pict. A 117, fol. 15a; Welch, fig. 85; Adle, 1993, pp. 251-52). After the arrival of Mīr Sayyed ʿAlī Moṣawwer and ʿAbd al-Ṣamad Šīrīn-Qalam (q.v.; Adle, 1993, pp. 256-57) from Persia toward the end of 956/1549, Dūst-Moḥammad lost his preeminent position there, however (Dickson and Welch, I, pp. 119, 178, 248 n. 18), and in 962/1554-55 he accompanied Homāyūn on his expedition to reconquer India (Bāyazīd, pp. 176-77), where he died during the reign of Akbar. In India Dūst-Moḥammad painted his last known work, a portrait of Šāh Abu’l-Maʿālī (Sadruddin Aga Khan’s collection M. 126; Adle, 1993, pp. 272-75, fig. 16). He was the master of the renowned Persian painter, calligrapher, and gilder Šayḵ Moḥammad (Bodāq, fol. 112b) and may also be considered one of the artists who contributed most to the emergence of the early Mughal school of painting. His miniatures were admired and copied in both Persia and India (Sotheby’s, lot 148; “Jahāngīr album,” fol. 14a; Adle, 1993, pp. 276-84, figs. 14-15; Beach, 1987, pp. 23-26; idem, 1992, pp. 304-10).


C. Adle, “Autopsia, in absentia. Sur la date de l’introduction et de la constitution de l’album de Bahrâm Mirzâ par Dust-Moḥammad en 951/1544,” Stud. Ir. 19/2, 1990, pp. 219-56.

Idem, “Les artistes nommés Dust-Moḥammad au XVIe siècle,” Stud. Ir. 22/2, 1993, pp. 219-96.

O. F. Akimushkin, “Legenda o khudožnike Bekhzade i kalligrafe Makhmud Nišapuri,” Narody Azii i Afriki 6, 1963, pp. 140-43.

M. C. Beach, Early Mughal Painting, Cambridge, Mass., 1987.

Idem, “Persian Culture and Mughal India,” in A. Soudavar, ed., Art of Persian Courts, New York, 1992, pp. 304-10.

Bāyazīd Beyāt, Taḏkera-ye Homāyūn wa Akbar, ed. H. Hosain, Calcutta, 1941.

M. B. Dickson and S. C. Welch, The Houghton Shahnameh, 2 vols., Cambridge, Mass., 1981.

Y. Ḏ¨okā, “Dūst-Moḥammad-e Moṣawwer, Dūst-Moḥammad-e Kāteb, Dūst-e Moṣawwer,” Āyanda 8/5, 1361 Š./1982, pp. 244-53.

Ḡīāṯ-al-Dīn Ḵᵛāndamīr, Nāma-ye nāmī, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, ms. no. Suppl. Pers. 1842.

N. M. Lowick, “Some Countermarked Coins of the Shaybanids and Early Moghuls,” Journal of the Numismatic Society 27, 1965, pp. 157-69.

Sotheby’s, Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures, London, 12 October 1990.

W. M. Thackston, “Preface to the Bahram Mirza Album,” in A Century of Princes. Sources on Timurid History of Art, Cambridge, Mass., 1989, pp. 335-49.

S. C. Welch, India. Art and Culture, 1300-1900, New York, 1985.

[Plate numbers in this entry have been corrected; the numbers given in the print edition's version of the entry are in error.]

(Chahryar Adle)

Originally Published: December 15, 1996

Last Updated: February 27, 2013

This article is available in print.
Vol. VII, Fasc. 6, pp. 602-603

Cite this entry:

Chahryar Adle, “DŪST-MOḤAMMAD MOṢAWWER,” Encyclopædia Iranica, VII/6, pp. 602-603, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/dust-mohammad-mosawwer (accessed on 30 December 2012).