Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript D, folio 31v

Esfandiyār Throws Kohram from his Saddle

Kohram, who was either the son or brother of Arjāsp, was defeated by Esfandiyār in battle, and subsequently retreated to the Brazen Hold. Esfandiyār pursued him to the fort and another battle took place in which Kohram was taken prisoner, and the Turānians decisevly defeated. The painting takes the shape of a reverse L, which is not confined within the frame that encloses the text, but continues into the right margin and upward in that margin. The main confrontation, between Esfandiyār and Kohram, takes place in this prtion of the picture. Esfandiyār is portrayed in the same apparel as folio 26, a red tunic and pointed steel helmet, but here his black horse is covered in protective armor. He has seized his opponent Kohram by the belt and lifted him aloft from the saddle where his arm waivers uselessly, shield in hand. The Brazen Fort, depicted part in plan, and part in elevation, serves as a backdrop for that portion of the composition in the right margin. Noticeable is a crenelated tower, a rampart with embattlements, and several cannons protruding through narrow openings in the walls. In addition to Esfandiyār, Kohram, and their mounts, seven other combatants and three horses are portrayed in the scene. Six of the protagonists can be seen in the left foreground in the midst of a fierce battle. Four of them, all wearing turbans, represent Esfandiyār’s forces. One Iranian, wearing yellow-orange apparel of the same hue as Esfandiyār is, by virtue of his size and relative isolation, more prominent than the others. He has brought his sword down on the head of a Turānian who has sought to take cover under his shield. The backdrop for this portion of the painting is a non-descript hill of pinkish-mauve color, on the far side of which one can see the head and shoulders of a Turānian.

Painting: irregular shape 23.7 x 20.3 cm. The four columns of text above the painting consist of, from right to left, sixteen, thirteen, thirteen, and sixteen lines of text respectively. Below the columns include one or two lines of additional text. A rectangular frame encloses the text but is omitted in the picture area, allowing the painting to spill freely into the right margin. In addition, two standards, one at the top and another on the left, protrude into the margins. 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). No date.

Painting references: Cambridge Shahnameh Project
Text references: Warner, V, p.157. Mohl, IV, p.441.

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

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