Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript B, no. 1-126 (David folio 8a)

The Divan of Ṭahmurās

Location: The David Collection, Copenhagen, Denmark, #217/2006, folio 8a.
35.2 x 21.8 cm.
13.7 x 14.0 cm. (Scaled) without extension top left into the margin
Text area: 28.7 x 14.0 cm. (Scaled)
Signature in the lower left corner of the painting: raqam-e kamina moʿin-e moṣavver.

Ṭahmurās was the great-grandson of Gayumars, the first king in the Shahnama. He ruled for only thirty years, but accomplished a great deal, teaching people crafts and domesticating animals. Although Ṭahmurās tamed the divs and captured Ahriman, the incarnation of evil, Moʿin has not chosen to portray him in a moment of drama or action. Instead, the beardless King Ṭahmurās is seated on a platform throne at the right, attended by two musicians and a cupbearer. Kneeling in the foreground at the left, one of the members of the divan, or council, gestures to Ṭahmurās with open hands, while two other men kneeling behind him drink wine. Two more cupbearers holding long-necked flasks stand behind them with heads inclined toward the enthroned king. This scene takes place at the beginning of the short chapter on Ṭahmurās.

The purple, fuchsia, and peach hues of the walls, floor-coverings, and one musician's robe are typical of Moʿin's paintings throughout most of his career. The blue mural in the niche with a bird in foliage recalls the wall painting in Mo'in's image of the Old Man Who Fell from the Roof, which is dated 1050 / 1640-1641 (fn.26). The figure wearing a turban with a tāj, or vertical extension around which the turban cloth is wrapped, reflects the social category of the Šāhsevān, or people strictly loyal to the shah, common in the first half of the 17th century. Although this composition is not innovative, it contains many of the traits associated with Moʿin Moṣavver's manuscript illustrations. Moreover, the choice of episode is unique not only in Moʿin's work, but also in the 17th-century Shahnamas listed in the Cambridge website.

Painting references:
Canby_ Journal_2010, p.61 no.1 and p.83, fig.15.

Text references:

Warner, I, pp.126-28.

Photo: Permille Klemp. Courtesy of The David Collection, Copenhagen

Sheila R. Canby

Last Updated: January 5, 2014 | Originally published: 2010