Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript B, no. 2-

Rostam Discovers Soḥrāb's Identity

Location: British Museum, London, #1922-7-11-02
35.4 x 20.9 cm.
28.6 x 14.1 cm.
Text area: 29.2 x 14.8 cm.
Signature On the painting surface in the lower left foreground, raqam-e kamina moʿin-e moṣavver. and the date Ramażān 1059 / September-October 1649.

This painting illustrates the tragic meeting between Rostam and his son, Soḥrāb, when Rostam has mortally wounded the young soldier only to find, when he removed Soḥrāb's armor, that his armband contained the amulet that Rostam had given Soḥrāb's mother. After their first and only tryst, Rostam had never seen Soḥrāb's mother again, so his realization that he had killed his own son came as a terrible shock to him. Although this is the second in the sequence of images known to have been removed from the manuscript, it appears after a substantial gap in the narrative, suggesting that other illustrations, yet to come to light, may have been removed from the folios between the previous painting (2-087) and this one. This image is of particular significance because it is the first dated page from the manuscript, but is dated nine months later than the first colophon in the manuscript. Whereas 16th-century versions of this scene show the two protagonists in the company of several or many other figures, in the 17th century, most of the illustrations of this episode revolve around the two main figures and their horses and grooms.

Painting references:

Kühnel, Pantheon_1942, fig.5.
Stchoukine, SA_1964, p.64 and pl.LXXXVI.
Canby, PP_1993, p.109, no.73.
Canby, PA_2008, p.134,no..123.
Cambridge Shahnameh Project
Canby_ Journal_2010, p.64 no.9 and p.57 fig.3.

Text references:

Warner, II, pp.172-74; Mohl, II, pp.133-40; Levy, p.79.

Photo: ©
The Trustees of the British Museum

Sheila R. Canby
Last Updated: April 15, 2014 | Previously published Eng: March 17, 2011 | Originally published Canby: 2010