Before evening prayers, one of the Commander’s men arrives at Olive’s house and announces that the Sultan has called for a contest to see which miniaturist can draw the best horse in the shortest time. Olive fetches his materials, yet just before he is about to begin drawing he freezes, panicking that the whole thing might be a trap and, simultaneously, that he won’t be able to draw a good horse. However, his hands then take over and he begins to draw the horse. As he does so he admires the natural beauty of the animal. When he draws the horse’s rump, he feels a pleasant tingle in his own butt. He finishes off the drawing and thinks: “When I draw a magnificent horse, I become that magnificent horse.”
Olive’s account of drawing the horse suggests that his identity is somewhat fluid and tied to the subjects of his artistic practice. When he looks at the horse while drawing it, he feels that he is looking at himself, and even experiences physical sensations that mirror his feelings of admiration (and perhaps even desire) for the horse. Through his art, Olive’s identity becomes subsumed in his subject, which also elevates him to the status of a “magnificent” figure.