Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript D, folio 16v

Goštāsp Puts His Son Esfandiyār in Chains

The painting is basically an irregular rectangle in shape, wider than it is high, including a portion that extends well into the right margin. A text column that aligns with the frame on the right side divides the composition into two zones: Shah Goštāsp and his entourage on the right, Esfandiyār and his incarcerators on the left. The shah is seated on a throne in the far right, wearing a red robe and crown, gesturing with his left hand toward the center of the painting. Two courtiers stand behind him on the extreme right, and two elders, or religious men, with white beards and turbans are seated on the floor in the right foreground. One of the elders is dressed in a purple robe, the other in blue. Esfandiyār stands in the center of the left zone, bareheaded, with a purple coat and orange trousers, his arms bound behind him, and long chains shackling his neck to his feet. He is surrounded by three helmetted soldiers, two of which are physically restraining him, while a fourth solder dressed in a blue coat kneels before the shah apparently interceding on Esfandiyār’s behalf. In the far left background is a large white elephant, its trunk reared and an Indian driver on its back. The setting is the interior of the royal palace which is entirely tiled in light pastel hues. At the top of the extension on the far right is the roof of the palace with a tiled bulbous dome, a small pavilion, and the tops of two cypress trees.

Painting: irregular shape 18.5 x 20.5 cm. There are four columns of text comprised of two or three lines each above the painting, and nine lines of four column text below. A chapter title is encapsulated within the lower text block. A rectangular ruled frame encloses painting and text, except on the right side where the composition spills freely into the right margin. The folio is signed in the center of the lower margin in miniscule characters in Moʿin’s handwriting: ze towfiq ṣānʿe raqam zad kamina mo¯in (Drawn with the grace of the Maker by the most humble Moʿin). No date is indicated.

Painting references:
Cambridge Shahnameh Project
Text references: Warner, V, p.84. Mohl, IV, p.353.

Robert Eng
Last Updated: January 12, 2011 |
Originally published: May 7, 2003

Photo: © The Trustees of The Chester Beatty Library, Dublin