Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript E, no. 1-270

Zāl Before Rudāba's Castle

Location: Aga Khan Museum, Toronto. Formerly in the Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Collection, no. Ir.M 43
Welch gives the dimensions as 30 x 15 cm. without further elaboration; most likely these are the dimensions of the painting.
Text: four column; deepest column 30 lines on a 30 line per full page matrix.
Illustration number: The number 7 written in Arabic numeral, presumably of later date, appears in the upper left corner, probably indicating that it was the seventh painting in the manuscript.

The painting is primarily confined to the margins on the left and top, with an additional section captivated within the two left text columns. In the lower left margin, Zāl has arrived at Rudāba’s palace and signals a greeting. Behind him is the door leading to the palace, above which are two windows, corresponding to the second and third floors. A much larger window is off to the right, on the second floor. Young ladies appear at each window silhouetted against multi-lobe arched white panels decorated with blue foliage. They are similarly clothed, in long dresses loosely knotted at the waist, and pointed tiaras on their heads. Only the color of their dresses vary, and all cant their heads to the left in the typical Moʿin manner. Three stand at the largest window that is inset into the text. The two furthest to the right, holding long neck flacons, are maid servants; the third, dressed in red, would appear to be Rudāba. To the left of her is a more elderly woman wearing a chador. A lady-in-waiting occupies each of the smaller windows on the left. The walls of the palace are tiled in various colors - orange, mauve, or beige - without any real attempt to render structure or spatial organization. In the upper margin is a tiled roof surmounted by a small pavilion..

There are four columns of text including a chapter title. The two right columns are full, each comprised of 30 lines of text; the two left columns are interrupted by the illustration and only contain 19 lines each. The margins have been trimmed; thus, any signature that may have been in the margins has been lost. Although unsigned and undated, the style and quality is consistent with the other paintings signed by Moʿin in the manuscript to warrant an attribution to him. Painting 1-272 is on the verso of this page.

Painting references:
Welch, AK2_1972, Ir.M.43 recto (not ill.)

Text references:

Warner, 1, p.270; Mohl, I, p.206; Levy, p.44.

Photo courtesy of Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan

Robert Eng

Last Updated: April 18, 2013 | Originally published: July 11, 1997