Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript A, folio 79a

Rostam's Seventh Feat: He Slays the White Demon

The div’s dark cave is shown on the left of the illustration. In order to reveal the inside, the artist has diagrammatically removed the front, so that the observer views the cave as a roughly circular black area surrounded by jagged rock formations, in which many small grotesque heads are hidden. Within the black area, Rostam, dressed in his traditional leopard-skin headdress and tiger-skin coat, has already wrestled the white div to the ground. With his right hand he holds the div by the horn, presses his knee to the div’s chest, and with his left hand plunges a dagger into his adversary’s stomach. Blood gushes forth and the div is clearly finished. The div is portrayed as a spotted, white humanoid, with an animal head, horns, and long ears, wearing only a skirt and bracelets. One of its legs has already been severed, and lies detached from its body on the left amongst several of the monster’s maces. On the right is the trunk of a chenār tree which spreads its branches and foliage into the upper margin. Bound to the trunk of this tree is Owlād, portrayed bareheaded as a prisoner, and wearing a robe knotted at the waist with a sash. In the lower right corner are the forequarters of Rostam’s horse Raḵš. An elongated leopard stalks on the rock formation above the cave, and a bush grows out of the same rocks into the left margin.

Painting: 33 x 22 cm. Three lines of four-column text above the painting, and two lines of four-column text below. Frame encloses painting and text except for a čenār which violates the frame and protrudes into the upper margin; the rocks and shrubbery that do the same in the left margin. There is some smudging of the text on the bottom and in the lower margin, but there are no other apparent signs of damage or retouching. The painting may have once been signed in the lower margin but the signature has since been erased. Both Robinson and Stchoukine have expressed the opinion that some of the paintings in this manuscript may be the work of the young Moʿin; that possibility seems quite plausible with this painting.

Photo: © The British Library, Shelfmark: I.O. Islamic 1256, f79a.

Painting references:
Robinson, India_1976, no.1089 (ill.).
Cambridge Shahnameh Project

Text references:

Warner, II, pp.59-61; Mohl, I, p.426.

Robert Eng
Last Updated: March 17, 2011 | Originally published: March 17, 2011