Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript C, folio 188r

Bižan Kills Humān

Bižan has forced Humān to the ground in the center foreground. Pressing a knee into the small of Humān’s back, Bižan has forced the Turānian’s head upward, and has just slit his throat with a large dagger wielded in his right hand. Blood gushes forth. Bižan is clothed in a knee length purple coat decorated with arabesques, leather arm and leg guards, and a pointed steel helmet adorned with feathers; sword, bow, and quivers hang from his belt. Humān’s vermillion coat is less lavish; sword, quivers, and empty bow case hang from his belt; his shield lies uselessly on the ground before him. The setting is a barren sloping hillside which rises to a fantastic rock outcropping toward the top, from which several small bushes grow. Two Iranian warriors stand on the left side observing the event, one holding a standard, the other with his hands clasped before him. On the right side, partially cropped by the frame, are two Turānian warriors, one dressed in full battle gear who has dropped to his knees holding a finger to his lips in astonishment, the other wearing a turban and holding a standard. Beyond the rocky crest in the upper left is the head and neck of a dark colored horse, and two grooms that observe the event below in astonishment.

There are four columns of text above the painting comprised of, from right to left, ten, eight, seven and seven lines respectively. Two additional lines of text are written in the lower left corner. A rectangular ruled frame encloses painting and text except on the left side where the frame is non-existent in the illustration area, and the painting spills freely into the left margin. The painting is signed and dated in the lower margin, just to the right of center, in miniscule characters in Moʿin’s handwriting: ze towfiq ṣānʿe raqam zad moʿin 1065 (Drawn with the grace of the Maker by the most humble Moʿin, 1654-55).

For another Moʿin painting from the same episode, slightly earlier in the narrative, see Ms.G, 193v

Painting references:
Welch, AK4_1978, p.90, Ms.22, folio 188r (not ill.).
Text references:

Warner, IV, pp.49-50; Mohl, III, p.383.

Robert Eng
Last Updated: July 13, 2011 | Originally published:
July 13, 2011

Photo: © Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Geneva