Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript C, folio 199r

Fariborz Kills Kalbād; the First Joust of the Rooks

The two combatants have charged each other, Fariborz from the right on a black mount, Kalbād from the left on an armor protected horse. The result has been swift and complete. Fariborz, leaning forward in the saddle, has cleaved Kalbād vertically from helmet tip to chest. Kalbād, bleeding, still remains vertical in the saddle, his shield raised high to ward off the blow. There are a total of sixteen other figures, of which Turānians are clearly distinguishable from Iranians. The Turånians are all on the left side of the composition, and with the exception of Kalbād, all wear turbans. Four standard bearers in the upper left peer over the rock formation at the contest below, and two other mounted Turānians, turn to fire arrows, while riding out of the picture in the lower left. Conversely, the Iranians are all on the right side, and with the exception of the two turbanned horn blowers, all wear pointed steel helmets. They are clustered in three groups: the heads of four are peering over the rock ledge at the top right, two horn blowers are located at a ridge just below them, and in the extreme right foreground four mounted Iranian soldiers sit motionlessly, watching the Turānians. The setting is a sloping hillside more complex than in most of the other illustrations in the manuscript. The ground rises toward the top left where it forms an articulated rock outcropping with several bushes. In the right background is a second crest, further back in the pictorial space, that resembles a breaking wave in form.

There are four columns of text above and below the painting with a chapter title enclosed in a panel between the two center columns. The columns above the painting have four, two, one, and three lines of text respectively. Below the painting each column is comprised of two lines of text. A rectangular frame encloses painting and text, except on the left side, where the frame is omitted in the illustration area, and the painting spills freely into the left margin. In addition, three standards protrude into the upper margin, and a single horn protrudes into the right margin. The painting is signed in the lower margin in miniscule characters in Moʿin’s hand: ze towfiq ṣānʿe raqam zad moʿin (Drawn with the grace of the Maker, by the most humble Moʿin). The inscription is not dated.

Painting references:
Welch, AK4_1978, p.90, Ms.22, folio 199r (not ill.).
Text references:

Warner, IV, p.99; Mohl, III, p.454.

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

Photo: © Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Geneva