Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript G, folio 292

Eskandar Attends the Dying Dārā

The painting depicts the dying Dārā (Darius III) outstretched on the ground near the center of the composition. He is fully clothed in battle dress, his eyes shut, his crown at his side, but he displays no visible sign of a wound. Eskandar (Alexander the Great), his headdress removed, kneels on the ground comforting Dārā’s head in his lap. The umbrella of state is open over their heads. Five bareheaded dignitaries, dressed in battle gear, stand near the dying shah. Although they make gestures of grief, none really appears grief stricken. Another, similarly attired, kneels at Dārā’s side, while two grooms with their forefingers raised to their lips in astonishment, stand in the foreground attending their master’s mounts. A single tree grows in the center background behind the state umbrella; a craggy ridge with several bushes is near the top of the miniature. On each side of the crest three helmetted soldiers peer over the ridge, and in the far distance is a Fażl ʿAli type sky with clouds.

Painting: 25.5 x 16.5 cm. The text is written in four columns above and below the painting, with a rectangular frame enclosing painting and text. There is a fine horizontal tear across the painting just below the center, and a vertical tear near the right border just below the center. The miniscule signature, raqam-e kamina fażl ʿali, is inscribed on the sky at the top. In the center of the lower margin, written in Moʿin’s hand, is the signature raqam zad 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 in excellent Moʿin style, and except for the sky and the six figures in the far background which might be Fażl ʿAli's work, no other details are distinguishable from Moʿin’s hand.

Painting references:
J&Y_1914, p.37 no.36 (not ill.).
Robinson, Cochran4_1972, p.79, no.36 and p.84, fig.20.
Cambridge Shahnameh Project
Text references: Warner, VI, pp.52-55. Mohl, V, pp.70-73. Levy, p.236

Robert Eng
Last Updated: February 15, 2011 | Originally published: June 18, 2003

Photo: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York