Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript F, no. 6-347

Šāpur Captures the Caesar of Rum

Location: Khalili Collection, London.. Formerly in the Kraus Collection, New York.
34.5 x 22.3 cm. (after Grube)
12.0 x 14.8 cm. (after Grube)
Text area:
25.7 x 15.0 cm. (scaled)
There is an inscription with the name of Moʿin Moṣavver in the center of the lower margin. Grube was of the opinion that it was not in Moʿin's hand.

Events from the reigns of Šāpur I (244-272 AD), the son of Ardāšir, and Šåpur II (309-379 AD), known as Šāpur Zuʾl Aktāf, are confused in the Shahnama, where the latter is credited with capturing the Roman Caesar Valerian. In reality it was Šāpur I, the son of Ardāšir, that accomplished this feat almost 100 years prior. Šāpur and his forces attacked the Roman encampment at night, catching them off guard; Valerian was taken prisoner, and many of his forces were slain. Valerian himself remained a captive, and eventually died in captivity. Most probably it is Šāpur that is portrayed in the center of the painting wielding a bulbous mace; his troops, represented by two warriors with pointed steel helmets, follow from the right. The Roman Caesar flees before them, attempting to escape from the palace chamber on the left side of the composition. An attendant, wearing a turban, is stationed before an open door situated between the fleeing caesar and advancing Iranians. An indication of the palace complex extends into the left margin; the backdrop on the right side of the painting, behind Šāpur’s forces, is a typical hillside that rises to a rocky crest.

There are four columns of text above and below the painting, including a chapter title captivated within the two center columns near the top. A rectangular ruled frame encloses miniature and text, but a suggestion of the palace complex is painted in the left margin separated from the remainder of the painting by the frame.

Painting references:
Grube, Kraus, no.169.

Text references:

Warner, VI, pp.346-51. Mohl, V, p.366.

Photo after Grube

Robert Eng

Last Updated: August 9, 2015 | Originally published: August 9, 2015