Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript E, no. 4-338

Goštāsp Kills the Wolf that Resembled a Rhinoceros

Location: Current whereabouts unknown; formerly in the Collection of Helen Temple Cooke in Massachusetts
35.7 x 22.5 cm. (after Bonham's)
13.7 x 14.0 cm. (scaled)
Text area: 25.0 x 14.0 cm. (after Bonham)
Text: four column; deepest column 15 lines on a 30 line per full page matrix.
Illustration number:
The number 53 written in Arabic numerals, presumably of later date, appears in the upper left margin, probably indicating that it was the fifty-third painting in the manuscript.

Bonham's auction catalog entitles this painting as "Gushtasp killing a rhinoceros". In the Shahnama, Goštāsp never encountered a rhinoceros -- but he did have an encounter and kill a wolf, that is described in the Shahnama in fantastical terms having horns and the strength of an elephant. And if one looks carefully at the image of the animal depicted by Moʿin, there is the underlying structure of a wolf with the horns and thick skin of a rhinoceros.

The story relates that Goštāsp, while traveling in Rum, was implored by some of the locals in the area, to rid them of a menace, a terrible "super-wolf" that was terrorizing the local population. When Goštāsp descended upon the animals lair, he found it to be like no wolf he had seen before; it immediately charged him, and with its horn ripped open the underside of Goštāsp's horse. Goštāsp dismounted, dislodged a number of arrows into the animal, and then finished him off with his sword.

Moʿin has represented the wolf as a zoomorphic combination of a wolf with rhino attributes that charges from the right. Goštāsp stands his ground on the left, confronts the animal head on, and thrusts the final sword blow. Goštāsp's horse can be seen lying in the right foreground. Green verdure in the near foreground with a mauve hillside behind. A single large tree at the top right and a wash type blue sky.

There are four columns of text above the painting with three lines of text in the outer columns and two lines in each of the inner columns. Below the painting again four column text, 12 lines each in the outer columns and 11 lines in each of the inner columns. A rectangular ruled frame encloses illustration and text completely. There is no sign of a signature or date. This suggests that the painting may be a workshop collaboration, and not the work only of Moʿin himself.

Painting references:
Bonham's London 4 October 2010, Lot 13 (ill.).

Text references:

Warner, IV, p.338.

Robert Eng
Last Updated: May 13, 2013| Originally published: May 13, 2013











To view image
please click on this link: