Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript E, no. 1-355

Nowżar Captured in Battle with Afrāsiyāb

Location: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Acc. no. 1974.290.43
36.5 x 22.2 cm.
12.9 x 14.3 cm (scaled, max. size without narrow extensions between columns or standards that protrude into margins.)
Text area: 25.2 x 14.3 cm.
Text: four column; deepest column 20 lines on a 30 line per full page matrix.
Illustration number:
The number 11 written in Arabic numerals, presumably of later date, appears in the left margin, probably indicating that it was the eleventh painting in the manuscript.

Nowżar ruled for seven years, but his rule was oppressive, and the people revolted. The discontent among the populace and the death of Nowżar's father Minučehr gave Pašang, king of Turān, the opportunity to invade Iran with a large army under the command of his son Afrāsiyāb. The two armies met on the plain of Dahestān, and the Iranians were handily defeated. Nowżar and many of his nobles are taken prisoner, and Nowżar is later executed by Afrāsiyāb.

The painting shows a lively skirmish. Nowżar is on the left side, struggling to undo a lasso around his neck that is being pulled taught by a Turānian in gray on the right side of the composition, probably intended to be Afrāsiyāb. Two more Turānians back up Afrāsiyāb, firing arrows at the fleeing Iranians. One Iranian in the left foreground returns fire, while two others on the far left carry standards but are otherwise not engaged. Bodies and blood splattered heads litter the foreground. The backdrop is an off-white colored hillside that rises to a rocky crest tinged with pink near the top. Two horn blowers and another peer over the ridge. Some foliage and a blue wash sky at the top.

This page is part of the re-bound rump volume known as the "Gutman Shahnama". There are four columns of text above and below the painting. A rectangular ruled frame encloses illustration and text except for seven standards that violate the frame and protrude into the left, right and upper margins. These violations of the frame contribute to the liveliness of the composition. The painting is not signed or dated.

Painting references:
- search collections for 1974.290.43.

Text references:

Warner, I, p.355. Mohl I, pp.325-26.

Photo: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Bequest of Monroe C. Gutman, 1974.

Robert Eng
Last Updated: June 11, 2013 | Originally published: June 11, 2013