Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript E, no. 3-064

Farud Fights the Iranian Army

Location: Current whereabouts unknown
30.5 x 19.0 cm. (dimensions after Christies, which seem rounded off; page trimmed under glass)
14.2 x 13.7 cm. (scaled from Christie's page dimensions; seems slightly undersized)
Text area: 24.2 x 13.7 cm. (scaled from Christie's page dimensions; seems slightly undersized)
Text: four column; deepest column 15 lines on a 30 line per full page matrix.
Illustration number:
The number 33 written in Arabic numerals, presumably of later date, appears in the upper left margin, probably indicating that it was the thirty-third painting in the manuscript.

Upon ascending the throne of Iran, one of Kay Ḵosrow's first tasks was to avenge the wrongful death of Siyāvoš. Ḵosrow assembled a vast army of noted warriors, placed them under the command of Tus, and sent them against Afrāsiyāb, giving Tus strict instructions not to pass by way of Kalāt in order to avoid any confrontation with his brother Farud, son of Siyāvoš. Tus disobeyed, and took the most accessible road to Turan, which brought him right past Kalāt. Hearing the clamor of the advancing army, Farud went out of his fortification to investigate. He was spotted by the Iranians below, and Tus commanded Bahrām to bring this person before him bound. Bahrām climbed the mountain, learned the identity of Farud, and returned to convince Tus that this was the shah's brother Farud, whom Ḵosrow instructed specifically not to harm. Tus was haughty and indignant, and sent one warrior after another - Rivniz, Zarāsp, Tus himself, Giv, and finally Bižan - up the mountain to confront Farud. One by one Farud either killed them or shot their horse out from under them; only Bižan was able, after having his horse shot out from under him, to press the fight against Farud, who withdrew inside his fortress. The next day Tus launched a full scale attack on Farud and his forces. A great battle ensued in which Farud's forces were defeated and killed despite Farud's personal bravery. In the battle, Farud was isolated and attacked by Bižan and Ruhham; wounded and on foot he and a few of his followers managed to reach the safety of his castle, where he soon thereafter died of his wounds. Upon hearing news of the event, Kay Ḵosrow relieved Tus of command, disgraced him, and prohibited him from ever again serving in the Iranian army.

The warrior in purple on the black charger has been identified by a faint inscription just above his head as Bižan -- this inscription is apparently accurate. His spear has found its mark: another warrior in red is sailing through the air, the conventional rendering of having been dislodged from his mount. This can only be Farud, who's riderless chestnut colored horse is on the right. Behind this riderless mount is another cavalier in light blue, wielding a sword who might be identified as Ruhham. It is a lively composition with bright colors, set against a nondescript hillside. Several dead bodies and heads are scattered about the foreground, and a blue sky in the far background.

There are four columns of text above and below the painting. A rectangular ruled frame encloses illustration and text except for four standards that violate the frame and protrude into the upper and right hand margins. These violations of the frame contribute to the exuberance of the composition. The page has been trimmed but it appears that this painting was never signed. Nevertheless, the painting is very much in the Moʿin style compositionally and in detail, although the participation of studio assistants is quite probable.

Painting references:
Christies, New York, Sale 2136, 9-10 February 2009, Lot 509 (ill.).

Text references:

Warner, III, pp.62-66.

Photo courtesy of Christie's. ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2013

Robert Eng

Last Updated: May 19, 2013 | Originally published: May 19, 2013