Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | Ḵamsa of Neẓāmi

Manuscript K2, no. 4-29

The Battle of Mosul

Ḵamsa, Poem 4, Eskandarnāma (Šarafnāma), Canto 29

Location: Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art,
London, MSS.1220.5
33.9 x 20.7 cm (after Sotheby's)
Text area
: 25 x 14 cm (scaled)
25 x 14 cm not including excursions into the upper margin
Text: four column; 6
lines on a 25 line per full page matrix.
Signature: Not signed

The subject of this painting has been identified in all three of the Sotheby sales simply as "The Death of a King". The black aigrette on the helmut of the warrior being killed does indeed indicate his kingly rank. The text on this page, and the preceding text on the verso, speaks of a major battle and the assassination of Darā by two of his own officers. The battle can clearly be identified as The Battle of Mosul, fought on October 1, 331 BC between the forces of Darā and Eskandar. But Eskandar and Darā did not face each other in individual combat. But Darā was the only king killed in the battle, just not by Eskandar. Therefore, most likely this is an illustration of the death of Darā at the hands of two of his own. But that reading is not without its shortfalls: why is only one of the assassins portrayed, and why is he wearing a crown?

Painting references:
Sotheby's (London) Sale, 3 May 2001, Lot 47, Iskandarnama no. 2
Sotheby's (London) Sale, 10 October 2006, Lot 34, Iskandarnama no. 2
Sotheby's (London) Sale, 22 April 2015, Lot 113 (ill.)

Text references: (Eskandar-nama, p.316ff, Canto XXIX)

courtesy of Sothebys, with publication permission of the © Nour Foundation and the Khalili Family Trust

Robert Eng

Last Updated: December 17, 2016 | Originally published: Decemmber 17, 2016