Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript B, no. 4-100
(David folio 145a)

The Battle of Gorāza and Siyāmak; the Third Joust of the Rooks

Location: The David Collection, Copenhagen, Denmark, #217/2006, folio 145a.
35.2 x 21.8 cm.
22.9 x 11.4 cm. including painted spaces between the text columns. (Scaled)
Text area: 28.5 x 14.0 cm. (Scaled)
Signature in the center of the lower margin: raqam-e kamina moʿin-e moṣavver.

In the narrative, the combat of Goruy and Giv takes place after that of Fariborz and Kalbād and before that of Gorāza and Siyāmak. Unlike the scene on the facing page, Moʿin has not chosen to illustrate the defining moment of the combat. Rather, the two soldiers, each wounded by an arrow, dismounted and clutched each other before Gorāza threw his foe to the ground and killed him. Here, the figures have grabbed each other's belts, as if wrestling. The arm of Gorāza on Siyāmak's shoulder is the only intimation that Siyāmak will be overcome.

The symmetry of the pyramid formed by the two warriors is echoed in the disposition of figures on the horizon to the right and left of a jutting rocky outcrop, and the grooms and horses in the foreground. Again the crowded composition has the peculiar consequence that the foot of Siāmak rests on the hat of his groom. Despite the narrative proximity of this episode to the single combat on the previous page, Moʿin has made no attempt to suggest unity of place. Instead, the ground in this painting is white while in the one on the facing page it is purple. The lack of continuity from one page to the next results in a somewhat jarring double-page opening. On the other hand, Moʿin has managed to illustrate two of the single combats in this epic battle. By placing them opposite one another, he has given the impression of unceasing conflict.

Painting references:
Canby_ Journal_2010, pp.70-71 no. 24 and p.98, fig.31.

Text references:

Warner, IV, pp.100-01.

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

Sheila R. Canby

Last Updated: July 3, 2014 | Originally published: 2010