Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript B, no. 6-158

Eskandar's March into the Gloom and Ḵeżr's Discovery of the Water of Life.

Location: Current whereabouts unknown
34.5 x 21.2 cm.
23.4 x 11.3 cm
Text area: 28.5 x 14 cm..
Signature Centered in the lower margin, raqam-e kamina moʿin-e moṣavver.

In his quest for the source of eternal life, Eskandar took the advice of the sage, Ḵeżr, who set out with him in the Land of Darkness. At one point, the two became separated and Eskandar eventually reached a mountaintop, where the angel Esrāfil warned him of his impending death. Ḵeżr, meanwhile, found the Water of Life, which he bathed in and drank. As in the image of Rostam and the Iranians in the Snow (no.4-306), Moʿin has combined the two parts of this story in one image. In the foreground, Ḵeżr and another sage kneel beside the darkened pool that is the Water of Life while two horses wait behind them at the left. At the right, Eskandar's troops are ranked beside and behind the king, all looking up, not down at Ḵeżr. The ground has been painted black to suggest the Land of Darkness, and in the background the mountains appear misty and less jutting than Moʿin's usual crags. The painting is a beautifully rendered evocation of the moment of Ḵeżr's enlightenment and Eskandar's intimation of mortality.

Painting references:
London 15 October 2003 lot 30
Canby_ Journal_2010, pp.74-75 no.37 and fig.14.

Text references:
Warner, VI, pp.158-62
; Mohl, V, pp.173ff. Levy, pp.245-46.

Photo: courtesy of Sotheby's

Sheila R. Canby
Last Updated: September 25, 2014 | Previously published Eng: March 17, 2011 | Originally published Canby: 2010