Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript E, no. 5-122

Esfandiyār's First Exploit: He Fights the Wolves

Location: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Acc. no. 1974.290.43
36.5 x 22.2 cm.

Text area: 25.2 x 14.3 cm.
Text: four column; deepest column 17 lines on a 30 line per full page matrix.
Illustration number:
The number 59 written in Arabic numerals, presumably of later date, appears in the upper left margin, probably indicating that it was the fifty-ninth painting in the manuscript.

Esfandiyār, in order to reach the Brazen Hold and free his sisters, had three routes to follow. The shortest one took only seven days, but had obstacles to overcome. These obstacles are enumerated in the Shahnama as his seven exploits, the first of which was confronting and overcoming two vicious wolves. The painting shows Esfandiyār, true to the narrative, attacking the two wolves with bow and arrow. After wounding both animals Esfandiyār descended from his horse, and cut off their heads. The setting is a barren rocky hillside, with a small tree at the highest point, a few tufts of other shrubbery, and a wash sky at the top. Four of Esfandiyār's soldiers observe the event from the upper right.

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 chapter title captivated in the upper text area. A rectangular ruled frame encloses painting and text, except on the left side where the rear quarters of the wolves, a rock outcropping and tree spill freely into the left margin. Esfandiyār's face and the face of one of the faces of the observers in the background has been damaged. Not signed or dated.

Painting references:
- search collections for 1974.290.43.

Text references:

Warner, V, pp.121-23; Mohl IV, pp.397-98.

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

Robert Eng

Last Updated: June 7, 2013 | Originally published: June 7, 2013