Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript D, folio 223

Saʾd, Son of Vaqqas, Slays General Rostam

The painting depicts the two protagonists, Saʾd-e Vaqqas, the Arab commander, and General Rostam, the Iranian, center stage. Which is which is however uncertain. The painting and the iconography do not properly follow the text. Rostam struck the first blow that toppled the horse of Saʾd-e Vaqqas. Rostam dismounted, intending to finish the job, but unable to see clearly in the dust, was dealt a fatal blow to his head by Saʾd. The painting shows one protagonist suffering both the decapitated horse and the blow to the head, making the proper identification of the two protagonists uncertain. General Rostam, the Persian commander, was killed in the battle, and if it is intended that he be the person beining struck on the head, then he is on the wrong side of the composition; Iranians are usually shown attacking from the right. Adding to the uncertainty, Rostam's leopard-skin saddle, which might add a measure of identification is nowhere apparent. The severed head of the horse, two human heads, and the upper torso of a soldier lie in the left foreground. Strung out vertically on the extreme right are four mounted archers, presumably Arab, who aim their arrows in the direction of the left side. The setting is a pastel colored hillside, sparsely flecked with vegetation, that rises to a summit at the top of the picture. A small bush grows from the top, and on each side observers peer over the ridge. The four on the left wear turbans, the three on the right pointed helmets.

There are four columns of text above and below the painting. A rectangular ruled frame encloses painting and text, except for six standards which violate the frame and protrude into the left and upper margins. A long inscription appears in the lower margin in miniscule characters in Moʿin’s hand: be tāriḵ-e šahr-e moḥarram al-ḥarām sana 1066...[ze towfiq āllāh dovvom jeld-e šāhnāma?] etmām rasid mobārak bād raqam zad kamina moʿin-e moṣavver. ([This second volume of the Shahnama?]...was completed...[with the Grace of God?]... in the holy month of Moḥarram of the year 1066/November 1655. Drawn by the most humble Moʿin Moṣavver. May he be blessed.)

Painting references:
Cambridge Shahnameh Project

Text references:
Warner, IX, p.84.
Mohl, VII, p.365.
Levy, p.417.
Davis, Shahnameh_2007, pp.841- 42.

Robert Eng
Last Updated: August 7, 2012 | Originally published: May 7, 2003

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