Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript E, no. 8-340

The Death of Bahrām Čubina

Location: Current whereabouts unknown
25.6 x 19.7 cm. (dimensions after Christies; page has been trimmed)
16.5 x 14.1 cm. (after Christies)
Text area: 24.8 x 14.1 cm. (scaled)
Text: four column; deepest column 12 lines on a 30 line per full page matrix.
Illustration number:
The number 100 written in Arabic numeral, presumably of later date, appears in the lower right margin, probably indicating that it was the one hundredth painting in the manuscript.

Following his defeat by Bahrām Čubina at the Battle of Nahravān, Ḵosrow Parviz fled to take refuge in Rum (Byzantium). While there he befriended the Caesar and married his Christian daughter Maryam. With troops provided by the Caesar, Ḵosrow returned to Iran to again battle Bahrām Čubina. Despite an initial defeat, Ḵosrow managed to eventually route Bahrām who fled to China (Central Asia). Bahrām is later slain in exile in a plot engineered by Ḵosrow's emissary, and carried out by a man name Qalun.

The setting is symmetrical; The participants are arranged asymmetrically on either side of the symmetrical axis. Only the prostrate body of Bahrām Čubina, having already been mortally wounded by Qalun’s knife, spans across the vertical symmetrical divide, making him the center of attention. Bahrām's sister Gordiya cushions his head in her lap, consoling him in an attempt to hear Bahrām’s last words. Two bareheaded individuals kneel at the feet of Bahrām -- the one with the mustache and quivers hanging from his belt might be identified as Bahrām's loyal companion (cf. Ms.E no. 8-156). All is silhouetted against three cusped arches each containing panels of delicate leafy vegetation, the center one blue on white, the two flanking ones in monochromatic pink.

There are four columns of text above the painting; a chapter title is captivated in the center two columns. Below the illustration there are two columns of two lines each. A rectangular ruled frame encloses illustration and text completely. The top and bottom margins of the page have been trimmed almost in their entirety; thus, any signature that might have been in the lower margin has been lost. Added identification inscriptions above the heads of Bahrām and his sister are of later date.

For an earlier version of this subject also painted by Moʿin, cf. ms.D, f197v.

Painting references:
Christies London 6 October 2009, Lot 121 (ill.).

Text references:

Warner, VIII, p.340. Mohl, VII, p.186. Levy, p.371.

Photo courtesy of Christie's. ©Christie's Images Ltd. 2013

Robert Eng

Last Updated: May 11, 2013 | Originally published: May 11, 2013