Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript G, folio 331v

Bahrām Gur Hunts in the Company of Āzāda

Bahrām Gur is depicted in the foreground of the composition astride a white horse with bow in hand. Two gazelles that he is chasing appear in the right foreground; one of them already has its ear, hoof, and head pinned together with a single arrow. It is evident that the artist was not totally familiar with the text, where it is stated that Bahrām was riding a camel, not a horse. Further evidence of unfamiliarity can be seen in the second pair of gazelles, that are fleeing on the left just beyond the ridge line. At this juncture in the episode, their gender should have already been converted by Bahråm’s sharpshooting, yet they run unscathed. In the upper right, beyond the second ridge, sits on a dark colored horse playing her lyre. The two figures, Bahrām and Āzāda, are drawn in large scale, and except for a groom in the left background, are the only humans in the scene. The landscape is composed of a double row of craggy ridges, one behind the other, with a depression in between, and a few small shrubs dispersed along their crests. In the foreground is a stream with vegetation and fish; in the upper left is a single tree, and in the far background a sky with clouds that forms a backdrop for Āzāda.

Painting: 23.5 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 center of the panting and a number of other, smaller, irregular tears at various places, most noticeably in the lower right corner. There has also been some minor damage to the faces of the two main figures, but no retouching is evident. The only signature on the page, raqam-e kamina fażl ʿali, is inscribed at the top of the painting just above the head of Āzāda. Attributed by Jackson and Yohannan to Fażl ʿAli, by Stchoukine to Moʿin, and by Robinson to Moʿin with the assistance of Fażl ʿAli. Although the painting is not signed by Moʿin, it is in excellent Mo¯in style, and except for the sky which appears at variance with the master’s work, no other details are distinguishable from Moʿin’s hand.

Painting references:
J&Y_1914, p.38 no.38 (not ill.).
Stchoukine, SA_1964, p.70 (not ill.)
Robinson, PD_1965, p.26 and pl.65.
Robinson, PP_1965, pl.23.
Robinson, Cochran4_1972, p.79, no.38 and p.85, fig.22 .
Cambridge Shahnameh Project
Text references: Warner, VI, pp.382-84; Mohl, V, pp.405-06. Levy, pp.299-301.

Robert Eng
Last Updated: February 8, 2011 | Originally published: June 18, 2003

Photo: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York