Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript D, folio 186v

The Second Battle of Ḵosrow Parviz and Bahrām Čubina

The subject is not readily apparent from the iconography of the painting or the accompanying text. Its location in the manuscript suggests that it is an early episode in the confrontation between Ḵosrow Parviz, son of Shah Hormozd, and the usurper Bahrām Čubina, in their ongoing struggle for the crown of Iran. The text, however, speaks not of Bahrām Čubina, but only of Ḵosrow in confrontation with Rumis (Turks). Ḵosrow Parviz might seemingly be identified as the dominant figure on the right, dressed in a red coat and pointed steel helmet, who charges on an armor protected horse to dislodge an opponent with his sword. His youthful depiction is almost identical to the personage in the upper left of folio 189, who might likewise be identified as Ḵosrow, but at variance with the artist’s conception on folio 216, where he is portrayed with a full moustache. Ḵosrow is accompanied by five mounted warriors, distinguished by their pointed helmets, who are clustered about him on the right side fighting with bows and arrows, lances, and in one instance grappling hand to hand with an opponent. On the left side of the composition are five opponents who are armed with similar weapons. All wear turbans except for the dark-skinned, bearded, bareheaded personage in the upper left, perhaps intended to be of Ethiopian origin, who raises his hands in despair. The setting is the traditional sloping hillside colored in light mauve-pink that rises to a rocky ridge accented with white highlights near the top. Beyond it is a gold sky. Two trumpeters and two standard bearers are silhouetted against the sky in the upper right, and balancing them on the left two more standard bearers.

Painting: 20 x 12.3 cm. There are three lines of four column text above the painting, and two lines below. A rectangular ruled frame encloses painting and text which is only violated by the seven standards that protrude into the upper margin, and two horns in the right margin. Signed in the lower margin with miniscule characters in Moʿin’s handwriting: raqam zad kamina moʿin (drawn by the humble Moʿin). The inscription is not dated.

Painting references:
Cambridge Shahnameh Project
Text references:
Warner, VIII, p.289. Mohl, VII, p.121.

Robert Eng
Last Updated: January 20, 2011 |
Originally published: May 7, 2003

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