Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript D, folio 189

The Third Battle of Ḵosrow Parviz and Bahrām Čubina

The painting is confined top and bottom to the confines of the text, and to the frame on the right, but the frame on the left side is virtually non-existent, permitting the composition to continue uninterrupted and irregularly into the left margin, which contributes an element of vibrancy and originality to the depiction. The subject is the third battle between Ḵosrow Parviz and Bahrām Čubina, in which by the divine intervention of the angel Soruš, Parviz finally gained the upper hand. But the identifications are subject to uncertainty. The composition is a melange of horses, combatants, weapons, and standards moving in a right-left direction. Ten personage and eight horses are represented. Judging by folio 186v, one might identify Ḵosrow Parviz as the youthful personage in the upper left defending himself with sword and shield. Bahrām Čubina might be identified as the dominant personage on the right side, wearing a red tunic and crown, crashing his sword down a fleeting opponent. But this representation of him is at variance with folio 197v where he is shown clean shaven. Seven other warriors and four horses, three of which are clad in protective armor, populate the scene; it is not clear to which camp each of soldiers belong. All are on horseback: two are shooting arrows, another is armed with a lance. Apparel includes pointed helmets, arm and leg guards, swords, quivers, bow cases, and tunics of various hues: yellow, red, purple, maroon, and gray. The setting is a non-descript hillside in light mauve-pink that rises to a rocky outcropping in the upper left, with several bushes in the upper and lower left. Beyond the ridge in the right background another figure observes the battle below.

Painting: 30 x 19 cm. There are six lines of four column text above the painting, and a single line below. The painting is signed in the lower margin with miniscule characters in Moʿin’s handwriting: ze towfiq ssanʿe raqam zad moʿin (Drawn with the grace of the Maker by Moʿin). Not dated.

For other Moʿin depictions of Ḵosrow Parviz and Bahrām Čubina battles, see folio 186v and Ms.G, folio 422.

Painting references:
Cambridge Shahnameh Project
Text references:
Warner, VIII, p.292. Mohl, VII, p.126.

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

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