Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | tāriḵ-e ʿālām-ārā-ye šāh esmāʿil

Manuscript M, SE_228

The ʿOstājlu Dogs Routing the Dogs of the Ẕuʾl-qadars at Āmada

In 913/1507-8 several battles were fought in the region of Diār Bakr between the Ẕuʾl-qadars under the command of various sons of ʿAlā al-Dowla, and the Safavids commanded by Khan Moḥammad ¯Ostājlu and his brother Qarā Khan. The account of these battles in the ʿālām-ārā-ye šāh esmāʿilvaries significantly and elaborates in more detail than Eskandar Monshi's testimony. But one cannot surmise, that it therefore is more accurate. Evidently, in the first encounter, Qarā Khan killed two of ʿAlā al-Dowla’s sons, Sāru Qaplān and Sāru Aslān (see Ms. M, folio 87). In the second battle Qarā Khan successfully defended the fortress Qarā Ḥamid against the onslaught of two other sons of ʿAlā al-Dowla, Kur Šāhroḵ and Orduvāna Beg, the latter being severely burned in the battle. Then followed a third encounter which pitted Khan Moḥammad ʿOstājlu and his brother against a larger Ẕuʾl-qadar force commanded by Kur Šāhroḵ and Khan Moḥammad Ẕuʾl-qadar, both sons of ʿAlā al-Dowla. Monshi makes no mention of Khan Moḥammad Ẕuʾl-qadar, but rather states that the Ẕuʾl-qadars were commanded by Kur Šāhroḵ and his brother Aḥmad Beg. However, in the ālām-ārā-ye šāh esmāʿil it is related that Ahmad Beg was also known as Orduvāna Beg, but Orduvāna Beg was killed, according to Monshi, in the first engagement. According to this text Orduvāna was burned at the siege of Qarā Ḥamid, but not killed, returning only to be killed in the third engagement.

The opposing forces drew up for battle within sight of the town of Āmeda, location of the fortress of Qarā Ḥamid. According to Monshi, the Ẕuʾl-Qadar forces number 15,000 troops and the ʿOstājlus only 3000, but these numbers are exaggerated. Each side had with it an unusual number of dogs, which according to the text included 2000 Ẕuʾl-qadar and 300 ʿOstājlus canines. While the two sides exchanged verbal abuses prior to battle, a number of dogs emerged from the Ẕuʾl-qadar lines and attacked the dogs of the ʿOstājlu army. As it happened, the ʿOstājlu dogs gained the upper hand, reportedly killing 500 of their attackers, and putting the remaining Ẕuʾl-qadar dogs to flight. The morale of the ʿOstājlu forces was uplifted by this event, and in the ensuing battle the Ẕuʾl-qadars were decisively defeated. Monshi claims that Kur Šāhroḵ and Aḥmad Beg were taken prisoner and slain on the battlefield. The ʿālām-ārā-ye šāh esmāʿil however, states that Khan Moḥammad Ẕuʾl-qadar was slain on the battlefield by Qarā Khan - no mention is made of his having been taken prisoner. Kur Šāhroḵ Ẕuʾl-qadar met his fate at the hands of Kur Šāhroḵ ʿOståjlu, who apparently derived his name by suffering from the same affliction of having only one good eye. Obviously stunned by the confrontation, Kur Šāhroḵ Ẕuʾl-qadar was easily unhorsed by his ʿOståjlu counterpart, taken prisoner, and thrown before Khan Moḥammad ʿOstājlu, who ordered him executed.

In the foreground the Ẕuʾl-qadar daschund-like greyhounds are in a melée with a number of mongrels, which presumably are the ʿOstājlu animals. Since they are headed for the left side of the painting, one might presume that the tide of dog battle has been turned and they are running for the Ẕuʾl-qadar lines. The ʿOstājlus, represented by four qezelbāš , observe from the right side. The most prominent, astride a white horse and wearing a spotted cape may be Khan Moḥammad ʿOstājlu, the Safavid governor of Diār Bakr and commander of the ʿOstājlu forces. The Ẕuʾl-qadars are represented by five mounted personage in a group to the left. Two of them more prominent than the rest, might represent Kur Šāhroḵ Ẕuʾl-qadar and Khan Moḥammad Ẕuʾl-qadarr, the two sons of ʿAlā al-Dowla in command of the Ẕuʾl-qadar forces. But the one on the white horse, with white beard and mustache and a finger to his lip in astonishment, appears too old for the part, and in fact appears more aged than ʿAlā al-Dowla himself (cf. Ms. M, folio 87). The setting is on hilly ground that rises to a ridge, and rises again beyond that in a looming craggy rock formation. There are some slight suggestions of shrubbery and patches of sky beyond.
See Ms. L, f. 137, for another version of this subject painted by Moʿin.

Location: Private Collection
Folio size
: 31.8 x 21.6 cm.
Painting: ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper. 15.8 x 13 cm wide (scaled from folio size)
Written surface: 22.5 x 13 cm wide (scaled from folio size)
Inscriptions: A marginal inscription in red describes the event depicted.

Painting references:
Text references:
Muntaẓer-Ṣāḥeb_1970, pp.228-231. See Savory, SA_1979, pp.52-53 for this event in the History of Shah ʿĀbbās.

Robert Eng
Last Updated: December 13, 2011 | Originally published:
December 13, 2011