This 16th-century Islamic binding was originally crafted from black goatskin that was embossed, gilded, painted, and covered with delicate gold filigree. Said to have been first commissioned by one of the Safavid princes of Shiraz, it came to be in the possession of Suleiman the Magnificent, the tenth and longest-reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Suleiman, a distinguished poet and gifted goldsmith, was also a great patron of the arts who orchestrated the development of one of the most glittering periods in artistic history.
In its original form this book cover was decorated with rows of golden lockets, hand-painted with flowers and rosettes, and overlaid with filigree. Artists of Persia’s Safavid dynasty (1501–1722) ensured that its bookbinding and décor represented a pinnacle of cultural achievement.