Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript G, folio 203

Gudarz Laments the Dying Pirān

Pirān is portrayed as an old man with a long white beard, wounded and exhausted and near death, lying at the top of the hill in the center of the composition. His shield is still strung on his back, his sword and bow encased, but in a final futile attempt to ward off the inevitable, he reaches for the dagger in his belt. Gudarz, his younger Iranian adversary, stalks the aged Turānian commander at the bottom of the hill in the left foreground. Full of confidence, Gudarz proceeds on foot with lance in hand up the hill in pursuit, only to find the totally defeated Pirān whose virtues he proceeds to lament. The forequarters of a saddled horse, and a groom shown in profile crouching in the right foreground, are the only observers to the contest. The hillside is composed in two levels: in the front is a small rocky hill that peaks on the right just below the middle; a second darker hill with a rock outcropping is behind it in the upper left, with a deciduous tree on the right. A small stream with vegetation on its banks winds its way, over both hills, from the top to the bottom of the composition, finally widening at the feet of Gudarz. In the far distance is a variegated sky.

Painting: 22.75 x 16.5 cm. The text is written in four columns above and below the illustration, with a rectangular ruled frame enclosing all. The miniscule signature raqam-e kamina fażl ʿali appears at the top of the painting, just to the left of the tree. In the center of the lower margin, written in Moʿin’s hand, is the signature raqam-e kamina moʿin-e moṣavver. Attributed by Jackson and Yohannan to Fażl ʿAli, and by Robinson to Moʿin with the assistance of Fażl ʿAli. The painting is executed in excellent Moʿin style, yet the signature of Fażl ʿAli suggests that he assisted, in the sky and perhaps other details.

For another version of this scene also painted by Moʿin, see Ms.C, folio 201v.

Painting references:
J&Y_1914, p.37, no.30 (not ill.).
Robinson, Cochran4_1972, p.79, no.30 (not ill.).
Cambridge Shahnameh Project
Text references: Warner, IV, pp.106-09. Mohl, III, pp.465-67.

Robert Eng
Last Updated: February 16, 2011 | Originally published: June 18, 2003

Photo: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York