Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript C, folio 52v

Nowżar Captive before Afrāsiyāb

Shsh Nowżar is shown as a prisoner, bareheaded, with his hands and feet bound, on the left side of the painting. He stands rather isolated, the focus of everyone’s gaze. Two Turānian guards stand behind him, and the elite of Turān form a semi-circle before him that fills the right half of the picture almost entirely. The most important of the Turānians is Afrāsiyāb, who is seated on the prancing, black mount in the upper right, apparently addressing Nowżar. Afrāsiyāb wears a crown, and the umbrella of kingship is held aloft over his head, but otherwise is dressed as a warrior, with bow, quivers, and sword hanging from his belt. Two youthful attendants, wearing turbans, are stationed on the far right behind the Turānian king. One holds the umbrella of state, the other a long-necked flacon. In the lower right quadrant are six horsemen, all wearing the trappings of combat, but some quite distinguished looking and obviously of Turānian nobility. In the lower left corner are two more soldiers, but their lower extremities are cropped by the frame, thus making it impossible to determine if they are mounted or on foot. Behind them, about mid-way to the prisoner Nowżar, stands an individual of obviously baser quality; he has long hair matted to one side, a wide black moustache, a short loose jacket knotted at the waist, and holds a sword raised to his right shoulder. He can be readily identified as the executioner. The setting is simply a hillside that rises to a craggy rock formation at the top, with only the slightest suggestion of shrubbery.

There are four columns of text above and below the painting. The upper columns each contain four lines of text, those below thepainting only two lines each. A ruled frame encloses illustration and text, except for four standards that violate the frame and protrude into the right margin. The painting is signed in the lower margin, near the center, in miniscule characters in Moʿin’s hand: raqam zad kamina moʿin-e moṣavver. Not dated.

Painting references:
Welch, AK4_1978, p.89, Ms.22, folio 52v (not illustrated).
Text references:

Warner, I, p.355; Mohl, I, p.326.

Robert Eng
Last Updated: June 22, 2011 | Originally published:
June 22, 2011

Photo: © Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Geneva