Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript E, no. 8-156

Bahrām Čubina before the Palace of the Prophetic Princess

Location: Aga Khan Museum, Toronto. Formerly in the Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Collection, no. Ir.M 43/H
Welch gives the dimensions as 26.7 x 17.8 cm. without further elaboration; most likely these are the dimensions of the outer extremities of the frame But the two dimension do not scale together.
Page: not known.
26.0 x 19.5 cm.
Text area: 25.4 - 26.0 x 14.9 - 15.0 cm.
Text: four column; deepest column 12 lines on a 30 line per full page matrix.
Illustration number:
The number 92 written in Arabic numeral, presumably of later date, appears in the upper left corner, probably indicating that it was the ninety-second painting in the manuscript.

While on a hunt, Bahrām Čubina came across an onager, who seemed to beckon for Bahrām to follow him. The onager led him to large palace, and thence disappeared. The palace was that of the prophetic princess, who foretold to Bahrām that he would some day be king. The painting shows Bahrām, in a vermilion coat, proceeding on foot in the center foreground. The onager that he followed is shown in diminutive size off to the right, looking back at Bahråm as if invite him to enter the mauve colored doorway leading into the palace. The doorway, which exists entirely in the right margin, no doubt leads to the upper story of the palace directly above it. There, on an enclosed balcony, a young lady wearing a crown, who can be none other than the prophetic princess, reclines against a pillow. Bahråm’s loyal companion Izad Gošasp stands in the left foreground, wearing a blue coat, holding the reigns of Bahrām's black horse whose forequarters appear just behind him him. Behind Izad Gošasp is a wall of mauve tiles, over which one can see two palm trees and a stormy blue sky. The backdrop on the right side of the painting is composed of several panels in white, mauve, or orange painted with foliage, birds, and arabesque decorations.

There are four columns of text above and below the painting.. A ruled frame encloses illustration and text, which is rectangular on three sides, but irregular on the right side where it juts outward to encompass the painting that extends into the right margin in two places. 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. No date is indicated.

Painting references:
Welch, AK2_1972, Ir.M.43/H (ill.)

Text references:

Warner, VIII, pp. 156-57. Mohl, VI, p.534. Levy, pp. 346-47.

Photo courtesy of Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan

Robert Eng
Last Updated: May 10, 2013 | Originally published: June 23, 1997