Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript B, no. 5-130
(David folio 186b)

The Fourth Stage of Esfandiyār: He Confronts the Witch

Location: The David Collection, Copenhagen, Denmark, #217/2006, folio 186b.
35.2 x 21.8 cm.
24.1 x 11.4 cm. including painted spaces between the text columns. (Scaled)
Text area: 28.8 x 14.4 cm. (Scaled)
Signature in the center of the lower margin: raqam-e kamina moʿin-e moṣavver.

In Esfandiyār's encounter with a witch, she first took the form of a beautiful woman. He sang and drank with her, but realized that she was a witch and slipped a metal chain around her. At this point she metamorphosed into a lion, but Esfandiyār threatened her with his sword. Finally she reverted to her original identity, a frightful hag. The scene depicted here appears to be the moment before Esfandiyār hit her on the head and she turned to dust. The composition conforms to the enthronement scenes in this manuscript, except that Esfandiyār is seated before a tent, part of an encampment. An illustration by Moʿin of the same episode from a Shahnama of 1066 /1655 presents the more traditional version of this scene in which Esfandiyār cleaves the witch (see ms D, f.26).

Painting references:
Canby_ Journal_2010, p.73 no. 31 and p.102, fig.34.

Text references:

Warner, V, pp.128-31.

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

Sheila R. Canby

Last Updated: July 20, 2014 | Originally published: 2010