Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript C, folio 141r

Bižan Battles Palāšān

Welch has identified the subject of this painting as Bižan Battling Palāšān, but one is unable to verify from the accompanying text if this identification is correct. Be that as it may, there is a more important point to be made here. If one discounts the last painting in the manuscript (f.232) as a later Indian addition, twenty-eight of the twenty-nine remaining paintings are signed by Moʿin Moṣavver. This painting is the one exception in having no signature, yet Welch nevertheless attributes it to Moʿin. There is clearly a reason why Moʿin did not sign it, namely, he did not paint it. The rock formations, the trees, the building structure, the tiles, are all distinctly different in style from the master’s. And although some of the faces in the upper rank may closely approximate Moʿin’s brush, the other figures and faces are far removed from the master’s style. They have short stumpy bodies with large heads, while the horses lack animation and the more elegant proportions of Moʿin’s animals. The artist was influenced by, but less accomplished than Moʿin, and may be considered a painter within the Moʿin orbit. Other paintings in what appears to be the same style are included in a India office Library manuscript (Ms. A), to which Moʿin also seems to have contributed.

Painting references:
Welch, AK4_1978, p.90, Ms.22, folio 141r (ill.).

Robert Eng
Last Updated: July 6, 2011 | Originally published:
July 6, 2011

Photo: © Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Geneva