Imam Quli Khan

Imam Quli Khan (1582-1633)
Hyderabad, 1760-80

Opaque pigments with gold on paper
Image: 24 x 14 cm
Folio: 28 x 17.3 cm

Inscription: (back) This is the portrait of Ali Quli Khan Deewane, Qizilbash

The identity of the elaborately turbaned figure seen here, seated on a throne, is confirmed by an earlier Golconda version of c. 1680 which is inscribed “Iman Kuli Khan of Shiraz”1.

Imam Quli Khan was the son of Allahverdi Khan Undiladze, a captured Georgian slave, who would become the most influential ministers during the reign of Shah Abbas I. Upon his father’s death, Iman Kuli Khan succeeded as the governor of Fars and he too would become one of the Shah’s most trusted nobles, earning the titles Amir and Divan, and amassing a vast fortune. The family would fall out of favor after the death of Shah Abbas I in 1629. His successor, Shah Safi, distrustful of those that were held in high regard by his father, would have Iman Qali Khan and his two sons executed in 1632.

It is not known if contemporary portraits of Imam Quli Khan have survived so it is difficult to attest to the accuracy of these posthumous likenesses. The composition appears to have held considerable appeal to 18th century artists, likely more for its curiosity than the identity of the subject. Another version of this portrait, painted by a Hadoti artist around 1750 is also known2.

1. Sotheby’s London, Imp. Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures, 4/3/1978, Lot 89.
2. Amit Prasad collection, Missouri.