Lion, ch’i-lin, and dragon set in floral sprays


Historical period(s)
Ottoman period, mid-16th century
Ink, color and gold on paper
H x W: 17.5 x 28.5 cm (6 7/8 x 11 1/4 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


dragon, flower, guardian lion, lion, Ottoman period (1307 - 1922), qilin, Turkey, WWII-era provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Previous Owner(s)

Hagop Kevorkian 1872 - 1962


Animals in ferocious combat are a recurring theme in sixteenth-century Ottoman art. In this remarkable drawing, a lion devours a ch'i-lin, a Chinese mythical animal, while a dragon is about to swallow a frightened bird perched helplessly on its tongue. Although the ch'i-lin and dragon were inspired by Chinese models, the depiction of these animals as fearsome, battling creatures is alien to Chinese art and is more characteristic of Ottoman and Persian pictorial language.

The composition is noteworthy for its use of undulating lines, which lend tremendous energy and vitality to the contorted bodies of the animals and the scrolling floral vine. This particular style of drawing, one of the most impressive achievements of sixteenth-century Ottoman art, also adapted to ceramic and tile designs.

Published References
  • Ideals of Beauty: Asian and American Art in the Freer and Sackler Galleries. Thames and Hudson World of Art London and Washington, 2010. pp. 120-121.
  • Dr. Esin Atil. Ottoman Art at the Freer Gallery of Art. no. 4 Istanbul, 1970-1971. p. 192.
  • Dr. Esin Atil. Ottoman Art at the Freer Gallery. Istanbul. p. 192.
  • Turkish Art. Washington and New York. pp. 194-195, fig. 90.
  • Richard Ettinghausen. Studies in Muslim Iconography I: The Unicorn. vol. 1, no. 3 Washington. pl. 45.
  • Ernst Grube. Miniatures in Istanbul Libraries. Munich. p. 225.
  • Guide to the Exhibition of Persian Art. Exh. cat. New York. p. 206.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum