Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript E, no. 3-276

The Div Akvān Flings Rostam into the Sea

Location: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Acc. no. 1974.290.43
36.5 x 22.2 cm.
18.0 x 14.3 cm (scaled, max. size without narrow extensions between columns).

Text area: 25.2 x 14.3 cm.
Text: four column; deepest column 15 lines on a 30 line per full page matrix.
Illustration number:
The number 40 written in Arabic numerals, presumably of later date, appears in the center of the right margin, probably indicating that it was the fortieth painting in the manuscript.

The painting depicts the precise moment in the story when Akvān had raised Rostam, still sleeping on the patch of earth, over his head and is about to cast him into the sea. In this respect the composition follows the traditional rendering of the scene. However, the text clearly states that before Rostam laid down to sleep he placed his leopard skin saddle cover under his head as a pillow, but this is nowhere visible. The background, typical for Moʿin, is a purple colored hillside that reaches a craggy crest near the top of the painting, where grow a few green bushes. At the base of the hill, in the foreground, is a gray expanse on which (or in which) the Akvān stands, which may be tarnished silver that was intended to convey the sea into which Rostam is about to be dispatched. The orange div Akvān, wearing only a skirt and
bracelets on its arms and legs, has humanoid characteristics of large and muscular proportions, combined with long floppy ears, horns, and a tail. Rostam's faithful horse Raḵš, who is usually part of the iconography of the scene is nowhere evident. A blue wash sky, typical for Moʿin, is 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 with a rectangular ruled frame enclosing illustration and text. Signed in the center of the lower margin: raqam-e kamina moʿin-e moṣavver.

For two other versions of this subject also painted by Moʿin, see ms.B, no.3-276 and ms.G, f.170v.

Painting references:
Metropolitan Museum, Masterpieces_2011, p.228, no.154.
- search collections for 1974.290.43

Text references:

Warner, III, p.276-78. Mohl, III, pp.222-23.

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

Robert Eng

Last Updated: June 6, 2013 | Originally published: June 6, 2013