Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript B, no. 2-014
(David folio 39b)

Rostam Lifts Afrāsiyāb up by His Belt

Location: The David Collection, Copenhagen, Denmark, #217/2006, folio 39b.
35.2 x 21.8 cm.
19.5 x 11.7 cm. (Scaled) Not including extensions into margins or spaces between the text columns
Text area: 28.7 x 14.0 cm. (Scaled)
Signature: not signed.

Still young and beardless, Rostam had acquired his tiger-skin cuirass and his magnificent horse, Raḵš, by the time of this episode. He is portrayed on the battlefield effortlessly lifting the archenemy of the Iranians, Afrāsiyāb, by his belt into mid-air. Unfortunately, the weight of the Turanian king was too great. The belt snapped and Afrāsiyāb crashed to the ground, where he was surrounded by his troops and saved.

In keeping with his other illustrations in this manuscript, Moʿin has focused sharply on the protagonists while clustering the onlookers along the horizon and below in the foreground. The vertical format of the picture surface and the use of the lavender ground as a backdrop for the action emphasizes Rostam's feat of lifting Afrāsiyāb straight up in the air with one hand. While versions of this illustration in other 17th-century Shahnamas depict the same moment of the story, in most of them Rostam and Afrāsiyāb are placed in the midst of the army on the battlefield. Here the figures holding battle horns at the top of the image as well as those wearing helmets imply a battle without overpowering the primary significance of the story and its illustration.

Painting references:
Canby_ Journal_2010, p.63 no.5 and p.87, fig.19.

Text references:

Warner, II, pp.13-15.

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

Sheila R. Canby

Last Updated: December 24, 2013 | Originally published: 2010