Abstact: The lecture focuses on the dynasty which established Shi'ism as the state religion of Iran. From 1501 CE, when the first Safavid Shah, Isma'il, came to power, the Shi'i shrines of Iran attained a high level of importance in the rise and political consolidation of the Safavids. The architectural alterations and charitable donations made by the Safavid Shahs both reflect intentional changes in use and initiate stylistic developments in Iranian art, sometimes inadvertently.
Dr Sheila Canby is the curator at the British Museum of the Islamic collections with a concentration on Iran, Central Asia and Islamic India. Her research is currently focused on sixteenth century Safavid art.