Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript C, folio 78v

Rostam Before Kay Kāvos

In the upper right Shah Kay Kāvos is kneeling on his elevated throne, his right arm extended admonishing Rostam. The shah wears a crown decorated with feathers, a red knee-length coat, and on his belt a dagger, encased bow, and quivers. Behind him, on the far right, stands a youthful servant in a turban and full length robe decorated with leafy plants. He holds the shah’s sword vertically in ceremonial fashion. A white multilobed panel with foliage serves as a backdrop, and to either side of it, tiled columns rise to a lintel situated just below the text. Left of center and closer to the foreground is Rostam, with his hands on his belt, at attention accepting the admonishment. Two warriors in steel helmets and battle dress stand behind Rostam, one of them, who might be identified as Tus, interlocks his arm with Rostam’s. Behind them in the pictorial space are two young turbanned servants, one of which holds a long-necked flacon pressed close to his body. There are six other figures, all warriors with pointed steel helmets. Three of them are seated cross-legged in the right foreground, two of them with cups in hand, observing the event. Three others have been cropped by the lower frame, but their head and shoulders are visible in the center and lower left. The floor in the foreground is tiled, or covered by a carpet with a repeat pattern, on which a number of vessels of fruit and drink have been placed. A garden with a tree and a rock formation occupy the left background, and on the right the palace roof with plants. These plants and two pavilions are interrupted by the text, and continue above it.

There are four columns of text above the painting; two are comprised of four lines each, and two have three lines each. Below the painting the text continues, again in four columns; two have two lines of text each, and the balance three lines each. The ruled frame is basically rectangular, but above the lower text block is extended to the right an additional column width to encompass the illustration. At the top right the frame returns on an angle which conforms to the “perspective” of the second floor of the castle to join with the upper text block. Even with this extended area, the swordbearer protrudes into the right margin, and at the top, two pavilions, two cypress, and three plants protrude into the upper 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. The inscription is not dated.

Painting references:
Welch, AK4_1978, p.89, Ms.22, folio 78v (not illustrated).
Text references:

Warner, II, p.142-43; Mohl, II, p.89; Levy, p.70.

Robert Eng
Last Updated: June 23, 2011 | Originally published:
June 23, 2011

Photo: © Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Geneva