Moʿin Moṣavver | Manuscripts | History of Shah Esmāʿil | tāriḵ-e jahāngushā'i-ye ḵāqān-e ṣāḥibibqirān

Manuscript N, jkjk_88

Esmāʿil Emerges from the Forest with the Sword Given Him by the 12th Imam

Location: The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, London, MSS458.
Mount: orange mount 32.8 x 23.7 cm. with blue-green collar.
Written surface: 24.1 x 15.3 cm;
Painting: 13.1 x 15.1 cm.
Text references: J.K., p.88 line 66 to p.89 line 7.

Date of this alleged event: late summer 905/1499.
Ms.L, folio 43v illustrates Esmāʿil before the Twelfth Imam, an event that would have taken place just before the event shown here. In that representation Esmāʿil, according to the text, had been led to a lavish garden, and there this boy of fourteen years encountered the imam. That man with the veil over his face responded to Esmāʿil's greeting, and responded, "Esmāʿil, now is the time!". He removed Esmāʿil's sword and replaced it with one of his own -- it is with this sword in this subsequent sequel that we see Esmāʿil emerging from the garden. The whole episode is, of course, pure fantasy, but one that is necessary to the founders of the Safavid dynasty to imbue Esmāʿil with the support, and hopefully the invincibility, of the divine.

The painting illustrates Esmāʿil astride a brown horse clutching his new sword given him by the 12th Imam emerging from the forest. He is greeted by seven of his followers, all mounted, and literally squashed and stacked one above the other on the far right of the painting. They are mystified, as one might be faced with such an event. The forest setting for the scene is composed of a lush green foreground with some plants and flowers, three trees on the ridge line, and and even light blue sky. Five lines of text above and two lines below the below the painting. Frame encloses painting and text. Painting not signed or dated.

Painting references:

Sims, BrMus_1997, p.1
Sims, Safavid_2002, p.54 and fn.1 (not ill.)

Photo:© Nour Foundatio., Courtesy of the Khalili Family Trust.

Robert Eng
Last Updated: September 18, 2012 | Originally published:
September 18, 2012