Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript B, no. 3-

Rostam Rescues Bižan from the Pit.

Location: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem B69-0625; Formerly in the Davud Collection.
Page: 35.4 x 21.8 cm.
23.5 x 11.4 cm. including painted spaces between the text columns. (scaled)
Text area: 28.7 x 14.3 cm.
Signature: The painting is reportedly signed by Moʿin in the lower margin.

The Turanian king Afrāsiyāb ordered Bižan to be cast into a black pit because Bižan had been consorting with his daughter, Maniža. When his plight was discovered by Kay Ḵosrow, the shah dispatched Rostam to locate and rescue the young Iranian. With the help of Maniža, who lit a flame near the pit so Rustam could find it at night, Rostam lowered a rope into the pit and Bižan was pulled to safety. In this painting, Maniža stands to the side of the flame, veiled and wearing white while Rostam in his customary tiger-skin cuirass and leopard-skin helmet rescues Bižan as three soldiers observe at the right. This is one of the most popular episodes in the Shahnama, illustrated in fifty known manuscripts from the 17th century alone.

For later versions of this scene painted by Moʿin, see Ms. C f.176v, Ms.E, no.3-346, and Ms.G f184..

Painting references:
Milstein,Israel_1984, pp.86 and 89, no.65 (ill. in color).
Cambridge Shahnameh Project

Canby_ Journal_2010, p.69 no.21 and fig.10.

Text references:
Warner, III, pp.344-46; Mohl, III, p.312; Levy, p.170.

Photo: © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

Sheila R. Canby
Last Updated: June 20, 2014 | Previously published Eng: April 07, 2011 | Originally published Canby: 2010