Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript E, no. 9-042

Širin Mourning at the Casket of Ḵosrow Parviz

Location: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Acc. no. 1974.290.43
36.5 x 22.2 cm.
13.4 x 14.3 cm (scaled, max. size without narrow extensions between columns).

Text area: 25.2 x 14.3 cm.
Text: four column; deepest column 16 lines on a 30 line per full page matrix.
Illustration number:
The number 104 written in Arabic numerals, presumably of later date, appears in the lower right margin, probably indicating that it was the one hundred and fourth painting in the manuscript.

In the later years of his reign, Ḵosrow Parviz became unjust and tyrannical. The people became disgruntled; the army eventually revolted, released his eldest son Širuy from prison and set him on the throne. Ḵosrow was taken prisoner and confined by Širuy to the palace at Ctesiphon. But the nobles, who were afraid that Ḵosrow might again regain power and threaten their lives, demanded that Ḵosrow be put to death. Mehr Hormozd was engaged to perform this task, which he did quietly and swiftly. One night he entered Ḵosrow's chambers at the palace with a knife, and stabbed him in the heart. In the following days Širuy tried to coax Širin to become his wife, but she wanted no part of a king that killed his father and openly besmirched her reputation. After dispersing all of her wordly goods, she went to the Ḵosrow's tomb, lamented, and then took her own life by swallowing a vial of poison.

The illustration portrays Širin mourning at the tomb just before swalowing the poison. Ḵosrow lies in the casket before her appearing as he would if he had just died. The spatial arrangement is rather strangely concocted; Širin and Ḵosrow are portrayed on the inside of the tomb, but can be seen by the viewer over the tomb wall in the foreground. The wall leads, on the right, to an awkwardly placed door way, with the door ajar, and the gatekeeper peering out.

This page is part of the re-bound rump volume known as the "Gutman Shahnama". There are four columns of text above the painting and a single line below. A rectangular ruled frame encloses illustration and text. Signed in the center of the lower margin: raqam-e kamina moʿin-e moṣavver.

Painting references:
- search collections for 1974.290.43

Text references:

Warner, IX, p.42. Mohl, VII, p.329. Levy, p.405. Davis, Shahnameh_2006, p.830.

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

Robert Eng

Last Updated: June 27, 2013 | Originally published: June 27, 2013