Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | History of Shah Esmāʿil (tāriḵ-e ʿālām-ārā-ye šāh esmāʿil)

Manuscript M, SE_50 (Reza Abbasi Museum folio 42v)

Esmāʿil Kills Sultan Ḥoseyn Bārāni

In the spring of the year 906/1500 Sultan Ḥoseyn Bārāni, a grandson of Mirzā Jahānšāh, was nursing rebellious and ambitious ideas against the crumbling Āq Qoyunlu dynasty. Several times he sent envoys to Esmāʿil at Qarābāḡ inviting him to meet and join with him. Esmāʿil, however, had a dream in which it was revealed that Sultan Ḥoseyn had the intention of poisoning him. When Esmāʿil revealed his vision to his confidants, they thought it best to escape from that area. Thus, Esmāʿil and his forces departed in the direction of Arzenjān by way of Gökcha Deñiz. Sultan Ḥoseyn, not wanting a possible rival to escape, pursued Esmāʿil with a force of 8000. At the Aras River Esmāʿil learned of the pursuing force, and decided to turn and fight. The two armies confronted each other in a pitched battle; many of Sultan Ḥoseyn’s soldiers were killed, and Sultan Ḥoseyn himself decided to flee. Esmāʿil chased Ḥoseyn for two fārsaks before catching him at the river, and there coming up behind him, cut him in two with a single stroke of his sword.

Esmāʿil and Bārāni are shown mounted on horseback in the foreground filling the dominant portion of the composition. Three of Esmāʿil’s mounted qezelbāš observe from the right background, while behind a rock formation in the left rear are two of Sultan Bārāni’s troops. One has a forefinger to his lip in a gesture of astonishment. Esmāʿil wear a white knee-length coat with gold buttons, collar, and quiver case. On his head and that of his followers is the red flat top tāj crossed with a white sash. Sultan Ḥoseyn, with beard and mustache, is dressed in mauve and sports a pointed helmet, shield, and sword. The landscape is simply suggested by an off-white rock formation, the silver river in the foreground, and touches of variegated blue sky in the far background. The painting is largely in neutral colors - white, off-white, brown, gray, and silver - with touches of red in the clothing of the Safavids that emphasizes their importance.

Location: Reza Abbasi Museum, Tehran, No.77.1.7, folio 42v.
Folio size: 35.6 x 21.6 cm. wide (after Mahboubian)
Painting: 20.3 (including standards in upper margin?) x 13.1 cm. (after Mahboubian)
Written surface:
22.5 cm. (scaled) x 13.1 cm. wide. Three lines of text above and below the painting. Frame encloses painting and text except for three standards that protrude into the margins.
Inscriptions: A marginal inscription in red, possibly of later date, describes the event. Inscriptions, one in red and the other black on two of the figures, identify them as Sultan Ḥoseyn and Shah Esmāʿil.

Painting references:
Mahboubian_1972, #923 folio 42v (not illustrated).
Text references:
See Muntaẓer-Ṣāḥeb_1970, pp.50-52 for this event in the History of Shah Esmāʿil.
See Savory, SA_1979, p.43 for this event in the History of Shah ʿĀbbās.

Robert Eng
Last Updated: October 18, 2011 | Updated: December 1, 2010 |
Originally published: March 28, 2002