Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript E, no. 1-247

The Simorgh Returns Zāl to Sām

Location: Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, London, ms.1070r
36.4 x 22.4 cm.
26.0 x 19.5 cm.
Text area: 26.0 x 15.2 cm.
Text: four column; deepest column 22 lines on a 30 line per full page matrix.
Illustration number: The number 6 written in Arabic numeral, presumably of later date, appears in the upper left margin, probably indicating that it was the sixth painting in the manuscript.

The painting is another example of Moʿin's ability to devise a clever solution to a unique compositional problem. The space allotted for the painting was insufficient to adequately portray the event, so Moʿin incorporated the margin space beyond the frame into his composition. The giant colorful simorgh flies in from the left margin, the infant Zāl transported on her back. His father Sām awaits patiently from below, a slight smile on his face. The rocky outcrop landscape and wash sky are consistent with Moʿin's work..

There are four columns of text above the painting. An irregular shaped ruled frame encloses text and the main body of the painting, but the simorgh and a few wisps of shrubbery are in the margin outside of the frame. Signed in the center of the lower margin: raqam-e kamina moʿin-e moṣavver. Identifying labels next to Sām, Zāl, and the Simorgh are probably of later date.

For another Moʿin painting from this manuscript portraying the simorgh see ms. E, no. 5-133

Painting references:
Skinner Auctioneers (Boston) on-line sale catalog, sale 2315, 22 October 2005, Lot 101.
Brend, Epic_2010, p.201, #83 (ill.)

Text references:

Warner, I, p.247; Mohl, I, pp.177-78.

Photo: ©Nour Foundation. Courtesy of the Khalili Family Trust

Robert Eng

Last Updated: April 18, 2013 | Originally published:
April 18, 2013