Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript E, no. 7-419

The Cremation of Ṭalhḥand

Location: Aga Khan Museum, Toronto. Formerly in the Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Collection, no. Ir.M 43/C
Welch gives the dimensions as 25.4 x 19.1 cm. without further elaboration; it is not clear what these are dimensions of.
four column; deepest column 18 lines on a 30 line per full page matrix.
Illustration number:
The number 88 written in Arabic numerals, presumably of later date, appears in the upper left corner, probably indicating that it was the eighty-eighth painting in the manuscript.

The expression of grief at a funerary event, quite evident in this painting, is one of those rare occasions in which emotion is depicted in Persian painting. The illustration is essentially a single horizontal register, one story in height, with a vertical appendage in the left margin that extends upward to a second floor. In the right foreground, from within a domed chamber, the golden flames of the funerary fire leap out in all directions, virtually touching the text above. Between the flames the black casket containing the body of Ṭalhḥand can be seen. Ṭalhḥand’s mother stands, in a blue dress, to the left of the chamber, her hair undone, her hands outstretched in grief, her eyes streaked from tears. Gow stands behind her, his arms clasped about her waist, restraining her from the pyre. The head of a groom, shown in profile, and the forequarters of a black horse appear on the far left in front of a tiled wall. Four other female mourners are represented in the scene, all with their hair undone and their eyes streaked with tears. One appears in the far right foreground, another in the center foreground, and two inside a small room on the second floor.

A ruled frame, which juts out on the left side to encompass the painting that has been continued into the margin, encloses illustration and text. The painting is signed, in the center of the lower margin, in minuscule characters that seem to be in Moʿin’s hand: raqam-e kamina moʿin-e moṣavver. Not dated.

Painting references:
Welch, AK2_1972, Ir.M. 43/G and p.211(not illustrated).

Text references:

Warner, VII, pp.418-23; Mohl, VI, p.351; Levy, p.331.

Photo courtesy of Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan

Robert Eng

Last Updated: May 2, 2013 | Originally published: June 23, 1997