Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript C, folio 84r

Rostam Slays Soḥrāb

See Manuscript B, no.2-172 for an earlier version by Moʿin of a scene from the same episode of the Shahnama, only a few moments later in the narrative.

In that illustration Rostam has already mortally wounded Soḥrāb, who lies dying on the ground before him. Here, however, the wounding has not yet taken place. Isolated in the center foreground of the painting are the two protagonists. The young Soḥrāb, wearing a red coat that buttons down the front, a crown with feathers, leather arm and leg guards, has been brought to the ground by Rostam. A sword, bowcase, and dagger sheath hang from his belt; his shield is pressed to the ground under him. Rostam, in his traditional tiger and leopard skin garb, has pounced on top of him. With one hand clutching Soḥrāb’s shoulder, Rostam raises his dagger and is about to plunge it deep into the youth’s chest. In the foreground are two horses and grooms shown in profile, with their forefingers raised to their lips, their lower bodies cropped by the frame. They are, presumably, the attendants for the two protagonists. In addition, four soldiers with painted steel helmets observe the battle from a distance, but they are all dressed alike and it is not possible to distinguish from which camp they belong. One is standing in the left foreground with a standard; two others, also bearing standards, can be seen in the upper left partially obscured by the rock ridge and visible only from the waist upwards; a fourth is similarly portrayed beyond the ridge in the upper right. The setting is a barren hillside that slopes upward, where, about mid-way up the composition, it becomes a craggy rock formation that continues almost to the top frame. Some bushes grow from the crevices in the rock, and a variegated sky can be seen in the distance.

There are only four short lines of text accompanying the painting: two are arranged in a single column in the upper right, and two more similarly positioned in the lower left. A rectangular ruled frame enclosespainting and text except for four standards that violate the frame and protrude into the margins. Signed in the lower margin, just to the right of 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 84r (not illustrated).
Text references:

Warner, II, p.172-74; Mohl, II, pp.133-40; Levy, p.79.

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

Photo: © Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Geneva