Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript D, folio 95

Ardašir Recognizes Šāpur During a Polo Game

The conservative rectangular format of the composition lacks the vibrancy and sense of originality evident in some of the other paintings in the manuscript that are irregular in shape with bold outcroppings. In addition, the composition does not hold together effectively, resulting in a less than accomplished depiction. Ardašir is portrayed wearing an orange coat and crown in the upper right, astride a white horse. To the left of him, an attendant on a black horse has moved the polo ball near Ardešir’s feet. Five children are depicted on the left side, but only one of them, Šāpur, has advanced to retrieve the loose ball. The others remain motionless at a distance. Four mounted men carrying polo mallets are tightly grouped together in the lower right, and can be identified as members of the “company of youths and elders” that accompanied Ardešir to the playing field. The field is represented as sloping ground of light mauve color that reaches a rocky ridge across the top of the painting. One set of goal posts appears in the lower left, another set in the upper right. Peering over the ridge at the top is a row of eight figures, including one horn blower, that celebrate the event. And beyond, in the far background, is a solid dark blue sky.

Painting: 25.6 x 12.5 cm. A single line of four column text appears at the top of the painting, and an additional column of two lines is in the bottom left corner. A rectangular ruled frame encloses painting and text. The nose and forehoofs of a horse, and the flared end of a horn violate the frame and timidly protrude into the left margin. The painting is signed in the lower margin, to the right of center, in miniscule characters in Moʿin’s hand: raqam zad kamina moʿin. No date is recorded.

Painting references:
Cambridge Shahnameh Project
Text references:
Warner, VI, pp.263-65. Mohl, V, pp.273-74. Levy, p.274.

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

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