Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript B, no. 6-183
(David folio 237a)

The Death of Eskandar

Location: The David Collection, Copenhagen, Denmark, #217/2006, folio 237a.
35.2 x 21.8 cm.
23.5 x 11.7 cm. including painted spaces between the text columns. (Scaled)
Text area: 29.0 x 14.8 cm. (Scaled)
Signature in the center of the lower margin: raqam-e kamina moʿin-e moṣavver.

Although Alexander the Great sacked the Achaemenid capital at Persepolis and put an end to that great dynasty, he was transformed in the Shahnama into a Persian king. Scenes such as this of his death in Babylon enjoyed popularity in the late 16th century, perhaps in response to the depiction of this incident in the Haft Aurang of Jami produced for the Safavid prince Sultan Ebrāhim Mirzā (fn.51). The illustration does not follow the text closely, since Ferdowsi did not describe the king as lying in the lap of a prince when he died. Moʿin has included three bareheaded youths holding kerchiefs, two of whom have laid their crowns on the ground. They gaze at the dead king, who lies crowned on his coat of mail beneath a parasol. Oddly, since Eskandar's youth is emphasized in the text, he has been portrayed with a white beard. Two soldiers frame the central figural group while horses and two grooms stand in the foreground. The terrain conforms to Moʿin's other landscape in this manuscript.

For a later Moʿin painting of this event see ms.D, f.83v.

Painting references:
Canby_ Journal_2010, p. 75 no. 38 and p.105, fig.37.

Text references:

Warner, VI, pp.183-84. Mohl, V, p.204.

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

Sheila R. Canby

Last Updated: August 12, 2014 | Originally published: 2010