Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Shahnama of Ferdowsi

Manuscript H, no. 1

Owlād Leads Rostam to the White Demon (?)

The painting appears to be from the beginning of Rostam's Seventh Feat, where Owlād leads him to the White Demon. Rostam is portrayed in the exact center of the composition, clad in his identifiable tiger skin coat and leopard cuirass. Sword, encased bow, and quivers hang from his belt; a bull headed mace rests on his shoulder. He calmly sits on his horse Raḵš that moves at a slow gait, towards the left, following a bare-headed prisoner that walks before him. This personage, who would seem to be Owlād, wears a short coat knotted at the waist with a sash, and tight breeches. His hands are bound behind him, and a red rope stretches from his bound hands to Rostam’s belt. The setting is the base of a barren hillside, which slopes upward to reach a rocky crest near the top of the picture. There is virtually no vegetation - only three small bushes appear along th ridge line, and small leafless twigs spring up at intermittent intervals.

The present dimensions of the painting are 11.8 x 13.5 cm., but it may be that the composition was originally somewhat larger for the participants appear a little cramped. It is entirely conceivable that at some point in time the original page on which the painting had been executed was irreparably damaged, and the owner, not wanting to loose its value, had the illustration remounted on another page from a similar sized manuscript. This would have necessitated some trimming for the painting to fit so precisely. Any signature that might have appeared in the lower margin would have been lost in the remounting. The painting is executed in excellent Moʿin style of circa 1650, as suggested by its close comparison with the paintings from the dispersed Shahnama of 1059/1649 (Manuscript B), in particular with the painting of Rostam Discovers Soḥrāb's Identity (Ms. B, 2-172). In addition, a comparison of the width dimension of the paintings in that manuscript - most of which range from 14.1 to 14.8 cm. wide - suggests the possibility that this painting could be one of the dispersed leaves, trimmed slightly, and remounted on a new page.

Current whereabouts unknown.

Sotheby’s (London), 28 April 1981, Lot 239 (illustrated).

Probable text references:
Warner, II, p.59; Mohl, I, p.424.

Robert Eng
Last Updated: April 26, 2011 | Originally published: April 26, 2011