Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript C, folio 64r

Rostam's Seventh Feat: He Slays the White Demon

Owlād stands, bareheaded as a prisoner, bound firmly to a tree in the lower right foreground. To the left of him, and filling most of the picture, is the opening to a cave within a rocky hill. Inside the cave, Rostam is finishing off the large white demon. The demon is portrayed with larger than life human features, but possessed also with a tail, horns, and pointed elongated ears. It wears only a short skirt, a necklace, arm and leg bracelets. Rostam has already pinned the div to the ground, and is on top of him with one knee pressed to the beasts stomach. One of the div’s legs has been severed in the skirmish and lies detached at the bottom of the picture. Holding the div’s horns in his
left hand, Rostam has plunged his dagger deep into it’s chest, thus ending the struggle. Rostam is portrayed wearing his customary tigerskin coat, but curiously, a pointed steel helmet adorned with feathers has been substituted for his usual leopard skin headdress. A sword and quiver case hang from his belt. Outside, from behind the cave on the left side, protrudes the head of Rostam’s faithful steed Raḵš, and next to it the head and shoulders of a youthful shepherd, shown in profile, observing the event with curiosity. Some shrubs grow out of the crevices in the rocks, and the tree on the right to which Owlād is tied opens up with delicate foliated branches over the rock formation. Two birds in flight appear in the upper left.

There are four columns of text above the painting each consisting of seven lines, and two columns of a single line each at the bottom. A ruled frame encloses illustration and text except on the left side where the painting completely disregards the frame and spills over into the left 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. No date is indicated.

See Manuscript A, folio 79a for what may be an earlier representation by Mo?in of the same subject.

Painting references:
Welch, AK4_1978, p.89, Ms.22, folio 64r (not illustrated).
Text references:

Warner, II, pp.59-61; Mohl, I, p.426.

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

Photo: © Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Geneva