Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript E, no. 7-117

Bahrām Gur Wrestles before Šangol of Hind

Location: Aga Khan Museum, Toronto. Formerly in the Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Collection, no. Ir.M 43/F
Page: 36.2 x 22.9 cm. (after Grube)
Painting: 23.3 x 14.2 cm. (after Grube)
Text area: 24.8 x 14.2 cm (scaled)
Text: four columns; deepest column 11 lines on a 30 line per full page matrix.
Illustration number: the number 81, written in Arabic numerals presumably of later date, appears in the right margin, probably indicating that it was the eighty-first painting in the manuscript.

Šangol is seated on an elevated hexagonal throne in the upper right, wearing a vermilion robe lightly decorated with gold, and a brown turban with a red feather. A servant, dressed in a purple robe with gold trim and a scarlet turban, stands behind him on the far right. Bahrām Gur is in the lower left, and having lifted the Indian wrestler over his head, is about to dash him to the floor. Bahrām, portrayed bare-headed, wears a vermilion jacket and a white cloth draped around his waist to form a skirt. His opponent wears only a pair of tight brown wrestling pants that ends at his knees. Four other personage are portrayed in the scene; judging by the form of their turbans, they all appear to be Indians. Two of them are seated in the right foreground, another in the extreme left foreground, and the fourth is standing in the extreme left background. The floor in the foreground is a lavender tile with black decorations. An orange column splits the background in half. On the right side of it, a black and white tiled doorway set in a white panel delicately painted with foliage that serves as a backdrop for Šangol. On the left, the courtyard opens to a garden with a large tree of tropical appearance that extends into the upper margin.

There are four columns of text above and below the painting. Above the painting the two outside columns are each comprised of three lines of text, and the center columns of two lines each. Below the illustration all the columns contain eight lines of text each. A rectangular ruled frame encloses painting and text, except for the tree that violates the frame and protrudes into the upper margin. According to Welch, the painting is signed by Moʿin, presumably in the lower margin. .

Painting references:
Grube, MMP_1962, #116 (ill.).
Welch, AK2_1972, Ir.M. 43/F (not illustrated).

Text references:
Warner, VII, p.117; Mohl, VI, p.23.

Photo courtesy of Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan

Robert Eng

Last Updated: April 28, 2013 | Originally published: June 23, 1997