Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript C, folio 1v-2r

A Sage Seated before a Princess and Her Court
and A Princess Presenting a Crown to a Prince

A double page frontispiece that has no relationship to the text of Ferdowsi, perhaps relating to the patron or the recipient of the volumes. The two paintings are apparently sequential..

On the right hand page (f. 1v) the princess is seated on a dais in front of a building decorated with tiles and a panel of finely painted birds. She converses with a bearded, turbanned man on a hexagonal seat in front of her. He holds a scroll, and appears to be an advisor or sage, possibly even an emissary from the young prince shown on the facing page. Fourteen young ladies, comprising the entourage of the princess, are scattered about the composition in groups of two or three -- musicians with tambourine and lute, servant girls carrying trays with vessels, and others who are merely observers. The scene takes place in the sumptuous courtyard of a palace. Between the two structures that form the distant edge of the courtyard is a fence, and beyond it a garden with a tree, a vine, some bushes, and the sky at the top. A small rectangular pool, seen in plan, occupies the center foreground. Vessels of various shapes, mostly long-necked, are dispersed about the picture.

On the facing page (f.2r), the same princess stands with arms outstretched, presenting a crown to a young prince seated before her. She is accompanied by two handmaidens who stand behind her. The prince, wearing a turban, is seated on an elevated, rectangular throne, and extends his left hand as if to receive the crown. Behind him, on the far right, three turbanned youths are standing in a row. A youth holding a cup, and a young girl with a tambourine, are seated in the lower right engaged in conversation. Between them and the prince is a bearded lute player. Intermittently dispersed down the left side and across the bottom are six standing males, all wearing turbans, and four of them leaning on walking sticks. The setting is the courtyard of a palace; in the left background is a garden with a large tree. Vessels with food and drink are dispersed about the foreground. The exact subject of the two paintings is not clear, but appears to be an investiture or perhaps a marriage ritual.

No text appears on either page. On f.2 several faces -- the young princess, one of her handmaidens, and one of the standing youths -- have been damaged. In addition, patches of black appear on the body of the youth in the lower right. Both paintings are signed in almost identical locations - on the tambourines in the lower right. The inscriptions, in Moʿin’s hand, are the same: completed in the month of Šaʿbān 1067/May - June 1657, raqam zad kamina moʿin-e moṣavver.

Painting references:
Welch, AK4_1978, p.89, Ms.22, folios 1v and 2r (not ill.).

Robert Eng
Last Updated: July 14, 2011
Originally published:
July 14, 2011

Photo: © Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Geneva