Mahmoud Said (Egyptian, 1897-1964)
The Whirling Dervishes
signed and dated ‘M. SAID 1929’ (lower right)
oil on panel
38 3/8 x 27½in. (97.5 x 69.8cm.)
Painted in 1929
Sold by Christie’s.
Mahmoud Said was a central figure in modern Egyptian art, born in Alexandria. He is called the “father of Egyptian modern art.” He abandoned his career as a court judge when he turned fifty to dedicate himself to his art full-time. His paintings are much sought after by collectors. A museum dedicated to his art has opened in Alexandria.
The subject of this painting is the ecstatic whirling of the Sufis or dervishes of the Mawlawi (Mevlevi in Turkish) order that follows the teachings of Jalal al-Din Rumi. For more on this mystical order and its practices, see this site.