Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript G, folio 422

Ḵosrow Parviz and Bahrām Čubina Battle on the Nahravān Bridge

The painting portrays the battle just after Bahrām Čubina’s mount has been killed under him, and as Charles Melville has already noted that the illustration accurately reflects the account of the battle. The horse lies prostrate on the ground near the center, an arrow protruding from its neck. Bahrām, wearing a short coat, pointed helmet, arm and leg guards, stands behind the fallen animal defending himself with sword and shield. On the right is Ḵosrow Parviz, similarly attired, charging on a brown mount with bow in hand. He is accompanied by two mounted warriors: one is aiming his arrow in Bahrām’s direction, the other waving a standard that protrudes into the right margin. The River Naravān is shown in the left foreground, and across it a diminutive bridge with four arches. At the right terminus of the bridge two warriors, whose placement in relation to the bridge is spatially ambiguous, are locked in a sword battle. “Above” the bridge the ground slopes upward to form a rocky peak, with rock ridges sloping off to each side. Behind the ridge on the left side are five warriors, who are presumably, some of Bahrām’s numerically superior forces. Balancing them in the opposite corner are three turbanned trumpeters, who herald the battle with long horns. Tufts of evenly dispersed grass grow on the slope of the hill, and at the top a small bush emerges. In the distance is a sky streaked with clouds.

Painting: 25.4 x 16.5 cm. The text is written in four columns above and below the illustration, with a rectangular frame enclosing painting and text, except on the right side where a horn and a standard protrude into the margin. There is a crease across the entire page about one-quarter of the way down from the top, and partial smearing of some of the text. The miniscule signature raqam-e kamina fażl ʿali is inscribed in the upper left corner. In the lower margin is the signature raqam zad kamina moʿin-e moṣavver and the year 1140 for 1104/1693. 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, but the sky and some of the subsidiary faces near the top may be the work of Fażl ʿAli.

For an earlier Moʿin depictions of battle between Bahrām Čubina and Ḵosrow Parviz, see Ms. D, f. 186v and f.189.

Painting references:
J&Y_1914, p.38, no.42 (not ill.).
Robinson, Cochran4_1972, p.79, no.42 (not ill.).
Cambridge Shahnameh Project
Text references: Warner, VIII, pp.226ff.; Mohl, VII, pp.40ff.

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

Photo: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York