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

Manuscript N, jkjk_106

Esmāʿil Kills the Wild Bear

Location: The David Collection, Copenhagen, Denmark, #28/1986.
Mount: light pink mount decorated with gold 35.8 x 23.5 cm; black or very dark blue collar. Mount may have faded from bright orange.
Written surface: 23.1 x 15.0 cm.
Painting: 16.9 x 15.0 cm.
Text references: J.K., p.106 line 4 to p.107 line 3.
See Savory, SA_1979, pp. 32-33 for this event in the History of Shah ʿĀbbās

Cf. Ms.L f.53 for another variant of this painting.

Date of this event: 906/1500.
The text relates that when Esmāʿil left his summer quarters at Sārugāya, he came upon a place with a meadow that looked like heaven, where he planned to remain a while. But this was a mistake of great magnitude, for at this location was a mountain with a cave in which lived a very large bear. Since this animal was attacking people and hindering their passage, Esmāʿil resolved to rid the mountain of the menace. Together with a band of his sufis he approached the mountain, occupied the area, and surrounded the cave. Upon hearing the commotion created by the army, the bear stuck its head out of the cave. When the bear saw all these people, it became frightened and attacked in the direction of Esmāʿil. Although only thirteen years of age, Esmāʿil stepped forward, strained his bow and killed the bear. Esmāʿil and his followers remained unmolested in that area for two months before departing in the direction of Arzanjān.

There is little compositional difference between this composition and Ms.L f.53, except that a few more qezelbāš have been added. There is an unmistakable compositional relationship between the two that reveals a dependence of one upon the other. This variant however, is more elaborate with a greater attention to detail. The page contains neither a date nor the signature of the artist, but the style makes an attribution to Moʿin quite plausible with or without studio assistants.

Painting references:
Sotheby’s London, 22 May 1986, Lot 153.
Louisiana Revy_1987, no.242.
von Folsach, David_2001, no. 48.
von Folsach, David_2007, no. 88.
Provenence: Formerly in the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Photo: Permille Klemp. Courtesy of The David Collection, Copenhagen

Robert Eng
Last Updated: June 21, 2012 | Originally published:
June 21, 2012