Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript F, no. 2-059

Rostam’s Seventh Feat: He Slays the White Demon

Location: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. #1975.192.25.
Previously in the Kraus Collection, New York.
34.5 x 22.2 cm.
20.75 x 15.9 cm.
Text area: 25.7 x 15.9 cm.
Text: four column above and below the painting on a 27 line per full page matrix.
Signature: An inscription in miniscule characters, in the center of the lower margin, follows Moʿin’s traditional formula of humility: raqam zad kamina moʿin-e moṣavver and the year 1077/1666-67.

There is a title captivated in the two center columns near the bottom. A rectangular ruled frame encloses illustration and text. The painting has been badly damaged: Rostam’s features are completely missing except for some gross retouching; the face of the div, the groom, and much of the painting’s surface has suffered from abrasion; and a large tear on the left side extends far into the composition. Although the painting is badly damaged, that which remains, notably the white div and the features of Owlād, are quite comparable to the other work of Moʿin

See ms. A, f.79a, and ms. C f. 64, for two earlier representations of the same subject by Moʿin

The div’s cave is shown in the center of the composition. Unlike the earlier versions, the artist has realistically rendered the irregular opening of the cave. Within the black area that is surrounded by craggy rock, Rostam, clad in his traditional leopard skin headdress and tiger skin coat, has wrestled the white div to the ground. With his right hand he holds the div by the horn, presses his knee to the demon’s chest, and with his left hand plunges a dagger into his adversary’s heart. The div is portrayed as an oversized, spotted, white humanoid, with a large humanistic head, horns, a moustache, long ears, and wearing only a short skirt and bracelets. One of its legs has already been severed and lies detached from its body in the foreground. On the extreme right a tree spreads a branch over the top of the cave. Bound to this tree is Owlād, portrayed bareheaded as a prisoner, and wearing a tunic knotted at the waist. The forequarters of Rostam’s horse Raḵš appear in the upper left, together with a groom shown in profile. In the far distance is a sky with clouds that is probably the work of n assistant.
Painting references:
- search collections for #1975.192.25.

Text references:

Warner II, pp.59-61; Mohl, I, p.426.

Photo: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Gift of Richard Ettinghausen, 1975.

Robert Eng
Last Updated: June 11, 2015 | Originally published: June 11, 2015