Illustrations from

Shahnameh (Shahnama) by Ferdowsi
Copy commisioned by Qiwam al-Daulah wa'l-Din Hasan
of the Inju Dynasty,
Ilkhanid governor of Shiraz, in March 1341CE

The celebrated dispersed Shahnama of the Inju period, commissioned by the vizier, Hajji Qavam al-Daula wa'l-Din Hasan, in Ramadan 741 AH. (ff. 5v-6r). The colophon has the date 20 Dhu'l-Qa'da but no year; it could be 741, as usually assumed, or the following year, 742.

Introduction to the 1341 Shahnameh
Click on some paintings for a larger image.

Hunt in the mountains.

Source: (1) Freer | Sackler
Frontispiece from a Shahnama (Book of Kings) by Firdawsi (d.1020); Illumination containing a Dedication to Qiwamuddawla wa'l-Din Hasan


A Ruler Enthroned.
Frontispiece.
Source: (2) Freer | Sackler

Preface



Firdausi and the poets of Ghazna.

FIRDAUSI AND THE COURT POETS OF GHAZNI

FOLIO FROM A DISPERSED COPY OF FIRDAUSI’S SHAHNAMEH (BOOK OF KINGS)

Accession Number: AKM88
Place: Iran, Shiraz
Dimensions: 37 x 30.4 cm
Date: 741 AH / 1341
Materials and Technique: Ink, coloured pigments and gold on paper
This was originally the fourth folio in a volume of Firdausi’s Shahnameh (Book of Kings) that was copied and illustrated in 1341 in the city of Shiraz, then governed by Inju administrators on behalf of Iran’s ruling Ilkhanid or Mongol dynasty (1256–1353). It would have appeared before the beginning of Firdausi’s epic poem, which recounts the story of Iran from mythical times through to the arrival of the Muslim Arabs in the 7th century AD.

Further Reading

Part of this preface concerns the (largely apocryphal) biography of the poet Firdausi. In need of patronage and financial support to finish the Shahnameh (which would, in fact, take 30 years to complete), Firdausi left his hometown of Tus in northeastern Iran, and travelled to the realm of Sultan Mahmud, ruler of the Ghaznavid dynasty, in Ghazni, the southeastern province of present-day Afghanistan. There he encountered three court poets—‘Unsari, Farrukhi, and ‘Asjadi—enjoying themselves in a garden. Thinking to trick the newcomer, each poet recited one line (misra) of an impromptu quatrain and challenged Firdausi to come up with the fourth and final line. Firdausi excelled at this test of his poetic acumen, with a verse invoking how the Iranian hero Giv speared the Turanian warrior Pashan to death. The three Ghaznavid poets immediately recognized him as worthy of inclusion in their company and of presentation to Sultan Mahmud.

The lines above and flanking the little illustration at the bottom of this folio recount the poetic test. The composition itself has Firdausi seated on the left, facing ‘Unsari, Farruki and ‘Asjadi and with each holding a wine cup. And whereas these three poets are dressed in relatively simply robes, Firdausi’s fancier garment is adorned with a lotus blossom, perhaps to indicate his intellectual superiority. Leafy branches fill the background, indicating the garden setting where this literary contest occurred.

— Marianna Shreve Simpson
Source: Aga Khan Museum


Firdausi and his book introduced to Sultan Mahmud

Accession Number: Per 110.4v
Scene described by text: Rustam kills Alkus in combat
English Title: The book presented to Sultan Mahmud sitting on his throne
Dimensions (h x w): 131 x 240 mm
Format: Stepped within borders
Reconstructed Folio: 47v
Source: Shahnama Project The Chester Beatty Library, Dublin

Chapter 6 Faridun (500 years)



The murder of Iraj.
Museum funf Kontinente, Munich
Title of Work: Shahnama (1341)
Manuscript: 77-11-394
Scene: The murder of Iraj
Dimensions (h x w): 97 x 17 mm
Format: Rectangular within borders
Reconstructed Folio: 016v
Hijri Date: 741 Dhu'l-Qa'da 20
Gregorian Date: 1341 May 14
School: Shiraz, Inju
Source: Shahnama Project Museum funf Kontinente, Munich



Manuchihr and Qaran fight Salm [Manuchihr kills Tur in battle].

Source: Aga Khan Museum AKM28

Chapter 7 Manuchihr


Sam recognizes his son Zal in the Simurgh's nest.

Title: Sam, Zal, Simurgh
Category: Persian Painting
Object Name: Shah-nameh of 1341. Firdawsi. Shahnamah
Detail: Painted under the Inju dynasty
Location: Iran
Dynasty: Inju
Sabah, Nasser Sabah al-Ahmad -- Art collections
Date: 1341
Current Exhibition Site: Mathaf al-Kuwayt al-Watani
Source: University of Washington Digital Collection
The al-Sabah Collection. Kuwait National Museum, Kuwait
Title of Work: Shahnama (1341)
Manuscript: Qavam al-Din
Accession Number: LNS 36 MS
Chapter 7 - Manuchihr (120 years)
Scene: Sam recognizes his son Zal in the Simurgh's nest
Reconstructed Folio: 021r
Hijri Date: 741 Dhu'l-Qa'da 20
Gregorian Date: 1341 May 14
School: Shiraz
Source: Shahnama Project



The meeting of Zāl and Rudaba, father and mother of Rustam. [Zal sees Rudaba on the roof of her palace]
.
Source: Museum of Fine arts, Boston



Manuchihr learns about Zal and Rudaba.

Source: Aga Khan Museum AKM29

Chapter 8 Nauzar


Zāl joins Miḥrāb in battling the Turanians.

Source: The Walters W.677


Zahhak and Farshidward before Afrāsiyāb [?].

Source: (6) Freer | Sackler

Chapter 10 Garshasp


Zal tells Rustam to prepare for war against the Turanians.
Object type: painting, manuscript
Museum number: 1925,0220,0.1
Description: Rustam and Zal; single manuscript page mounted on detached album folio. From the Shahnama of Firdawsi. Zal makes Rustam a paladin, surrounded by courtiers. Title written directly above the image, with six columns of text above and below illustration.
Ink and opaque watercolour on paper.
School/style: Persian
Culture/period: Persian
Date: 1330-1340 (circa)
Production place: Shiraz, Fars province, South Iran
Materials: paper
Technique: painted
Dimensions: Height: 36.1 centimetres (sheet) Width: 28.5 centimetres (sheet) Height: 12.1 centimetres (image) Width: 24 centimetres (image)
Associated names: Illustration of: Shahnameh
Purchased from: Georges Tabbagh
Acquisition date: 1925
Source: British Museum



Title of Work: Shahnama (1341)
Manuscript: Qavam al-Din
Accession Number: 1925-2-20-01, verso
Chapter 10 - Garshasp (9 years)
Scene: Zal tells Rustam to prepare for war against the Turanians
Format: Stepped within borders
Reconstructed Folio: 035v
Hijri Date: 741 Dhu'l-Qa'da 20
Gregorian Date: 1341 May 14
School: Shiraz
Public Notes: The gap between the break-lines indicates that the painting has been pasted over the text.
Source: Shahnama Project

Chapter 11 Kay Qubad


Rustam Lifts Afrāsiyāb from the Saddle.

Source: (7) Freer | Sackler

Chapter 12 Kay Kavus


Shah Kay Kavus Attempts To Fly To Heaven. [Kay Kavus airborne]

Source: (8) Aga Khan's Museum


Tahmineh comes to Rostam (Rustam).
Source: (9) The Fitzwilliam Museum
Rostam is approached by Tahmineh, the daughter of the King of Samagan in whose castle the hero is spending the night. Tahmineh, presumably the lady on the right (the other lady is her attendant), is a determined figure. The inclusion of an exterior brick wall enhances the notion that the spectator is getting a glimpse into an intimate scene. The candle that rises into the lines of text is suggestive of Rostam's response.



Kay Kavus summons Rustam.

Accession Number: Per 110.5r
Scene: Kay Kavus summons Rustam
English Title: Rustam before Kay Kavus
Dimensions (h x w): 60 x 235 mm
Format: Stepped within borders
Reconstructed Folio: 51r
Source: Shahnama Project The Chester Beatty Library, Dublin


Siyavush Displays his Skill at Polo before Afrasiyab.

Source: (10) The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Chapter 13 Kay Khusrau


Rustam, Zal and other Pahlawands Pay Homage to Kay Khusrau [Kay Khusrau praised by the elders].

Source: Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum



Tus battling the Turanians. [perhaps 'Farud shoots Tus's horse from under him'].
The Walters W.677Ca



The Iranians mourn Farud [& his mother Jarira].
Source: (13) Shahnama Project


Iranian and Turanian Armies in Combat. [The Turanians defeat the Iranians].

Source: (14) The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Rustam Pleads for Tus Before Kay Khusrau. [Rustam asks Kay Khusrau to pardon Tus.]

Source: (15) The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Human fights Tus.

Source: Aga Khan Museum AKM32


Rustam kills Ashkabus the Kashani and his horse.

Object type: painting; manuscript
Museum number: 1933,0929,0.2
Description: Ashkabus and Rostam; single manuscript page mounted on detached album folio. From the Shahnama of Firdawsi. Battle on foot between Ashkabus the Kashani and Rostam. Rostam appears as the central figure dressed in dark garments, facing Ashkabus, who grips a sword in defence. White horse lies between the two men, and two men stand to the right of Rostam. Six columns of text written below the image.
Ink, opaque watercolour and gold on paper.
School/style: Inju School
Culture/period: Inju dynasty
Date: 1341 (AH 741)
Production place: Made in: Shiraz, Fars province, South Iran
Materials: paper
Technique: painted
Dimensions: Height: 36.8 centimetres (sheet)Width: 30 centimetres (sheet)Height: 9.2 centimetres (painting)Width: 24.2 centimetres (painting)
Curator's comments: This particular Shahnameh of 1341 was commissioned by Qiwam al-Dawla wa'l-Din, a visier of the Inju ruler. Upon seeing his fellow Iranian Ruhham defeated in combat by Ashkabus the Kashani, Rustam challenged Ashkabus to do battle on foot. First Rustam taunted Ashkabus, then felled his horse with one arrow, and finally shot a fatal arrow at the warrior's heart.Rustam shooting Ashkabus and his horse, from a Shahnameh of Firdausi
Iran, Shiraz, 741 AH/1341 AD

This manuscript illustration comes from a Shahnameh, the Persian national epic, that was made for Qiwanuddawla wa'l-din Hasan the governor of Fars province. Its large scale, limited range of colours, and carless brushwork are typical of paintings produced for the Inju rulers of Shiraz.
The story concerns the hero Rustam avenging the death of his fellow soldiers. He challenged his enemy Ashkabus to do battle on foot. Here Rustam has shot the horse of Ashkabus and has just let the fatal arrow fly at Ashkabus himself.

Associated Title: Shahnameh of Firdausi
Acquisition date: 1933
Source: (16) British Museum



Rustam captures and kills Kamus.

Accession Number: Per 110.17v
Scene: Rustam captures and kills Kamus
English Title: Rustam dragging Kamus with lasso
Dimensions (h x w): 63 x 235 mm
Format: Rectangular within borders
Reconstructed Folio: 106r
Source: Shahnama Project / The Chester Beatty Library, Dublin


Rustam pulls the Khaqan of Chin from his elephant by lasso.

Source: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


Rustam and the Iranian Army Besiege the Fortress of Kafur the Cannibal
[Gustaham besieges Kafur the Cannibal's fortress, then Rustam fights Kafur].

Source: Harvard Art Museums


Rustam/Akhwand. [Perhaps Akvan Div flings Rustam into the sea?]
Title: Rustam/Akhwand
Category: Persian Painting
Object Name: Shah-nameh of 1341. Firdawsi. Shahnamah
Detail: Painted under the Inju dynasty
Location: Iran
Dynasty: Inju
Sabah, Nasser Sabah al-Ahmad -- Art collections
Date: 1341
Current Exhibition Site: Mathaf al-Kuwayt al-Watani
Source: University of Washington Digital Collection


Rustam returning to Iran after killing the Div Akvan. [Kay Khusrau receives Rustam after he has killed Akvan Div].

Source: (18) Bonhams


Bizhan Slaughters the Wild Boars of Irman.

Source: (19) The Metropolitan Museum of Art



Rustam feasts with Kay Khusrau
Accession Number: Per 110.21r
Scene: Rustam feasts with Kay Khusrau
Dimensions (h x w): 114 x 235 mm
Format: Stepped within borders
Reconstructed Folio: 123r
Source: Shahnama Project / The Chester Beatty Library, Dublin


Rustam Rescues Bijan (Bizhan) from the Well (pit).

Source: (20) Freer | Sackler



[perhaps 'Rustam and Bizhan defeat Afrasiyab in battle']

Source: The San Diego Museum of Art



The return of Rustam with Bijan from Turan. [Rustam comes before Kay Khusrau after returning with Bizhan]

Source: The San Diego Museum of Art


Rustam confronting the Turanian, Pilsam. [perhaps 'The armies of Turan and Iran facing each other'].

Source: (21) Freer | Sackler



Bizhan kills Human.

Source: Aga Khan Museum AKM33


Nastihan Slain by Bijan. [Nastihan makes a night attack and is killed by Bizhan].

Source: Freer | Sackler



Giv fights Lahhak and Farshidvard.

Source: Shahnama Project / Chester Beatty Library, Dublin


Two of the Duels between the Twelve Rukhs. Furuhad and Zangula (top); Ruhham and Barman (bottom).

Source: (23) Freer | Sackler


Shida, Son of Afrāsiyāb, Slain by Kay Khusraw (Khusrau).

Source: (24) Freer | Sackler



Kay Khusrau kills Aila.
Title of Work: Shahnama (1341)
Manuscript: Per 110
Chapter - 13g - The Great War between Kay Khusrau and Afrasiyab
Accession Number: Per 110.24v
Scene: Kay Khusrau kills Aila
English Title: Kay Khusrau kills Ila
Dimensions (h x w): 83 x 235 mm
Format: Rectangular within borders
Reconstructed Folio: 148v
Hijri Date: 741 Dhu'l-Qa'da 20
Gregorian Date: 1341 May 15
School: Shiraz
Source: Shahnama Project / Chester Beatty Library, Dublin


Kay Khusraw crossing the sea. [Kay Khusrau returns from Gang Dizh by sea].

Source: (25) Freer | Sackler


Execution of Afrāsiyāb.

Source: The Walters W.677


The Paladins of Kay Khusrau Perish in a Snowstorm.

Source: (26) The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Chapter 14 Luhrasp


Gushtasp kills a dragon in Rum.

Source: (28) Freer | Sackler
Note the chamfron.


Story of Luhrasp. [perhaps 'Luhrasp assassinated'].

Source: (27) Freer | Sackler

Chapter 15 Gushtasp



Bidarafsh kills Zarir, the brother of Gushtasp.
Title of Work: Shahnama (1341)
Manuscript: Per 110
Chapter - 15 Gushtasp (120 years)
Accession Number: Per 110.37v
Scene: Bidarafsh kills Zarir, the brother of Gushtasp
English Title: Zarir son of Luhrasp fights Bidarafsh
Dimensions (h x w): 81 x 235 mm
Format: Irregular, random into the margins
Reconstructed Folio: 172v
Hijri Date: 741 Dhu'l-Qa'da 20
Gregorian Date: 1341 May 15
School: Shiraz
Source: Shahnama Project / Chester Beatty Library, Dublin



Jamasp releases Isfandiyar.
Title of Work: Shahnama (1341)
Manuscript: Per 110
Chapter - 15 Gushtasp (120 years)
Accession Number: Per 110.41v
Scene: Jamasp releases Isfandiyar
English Title: Isfandiyar tied to four pillars by order of his father, Gushtasp
Dimensions (h x w): 102 x 235 mm
Format: Stepped within borders
Hijri Date: 741 Dhu'l-Qa'da 20
Gregorian Date: 1341 May 15
School: Shiraz
Source: Shahnama Project / Chester Beatty Library, Dublin



Isfandiyar's second labour: he fights the lions.

Source: Aga Khan Museum AKM34



Isfandiyar's third labour: he fights the dragon.

Source: Aga Khan Museum AKM35


Rustam Discoursing with Isfandiyar. [Rustam argues with Isfandiyar during the feast].

Source: (29) The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Rustum Fighting with Isfandiyar. [perhaps 'The first combat of Rustam and Isfandiyar'].

Source: (30) Albright Knox Gallery

Chapter 20 Iskandar (14 years)


Iskandar visits Queen Qaidafa of Andalucia. [Iskandar signs a treaty with Queen Qaydafa and returns]

Source: (44) Museum of Fine arts, Boston


Iskandar builds a wall against Gog and Magog.

Source: (43) David Collection Museum, Copenhagen



The great sages mourn the death of Iskandar.

Source: McGill University Libraries, Montreal

Chapter 22 The Sassanians: Ardashir Babakan (42 years)


Shapur Discovers Mihrak's Daughter at the Well. [Mihrak's daughter converses with Shapur].

Source: Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum

Chapter 33 Bahram son of Shapur (14 years)


Yazdgird Shahriyar Enthroned.

Source: (32) Freer | Sackler

Chapter 34 Yazdagird the Sinner



The Sasanian King Yazdigird Killed by a Kick from a Horse.

Source: Chester Beatty Library, Dublin


Bahrām Gūr Ascends to the Throne.
[Bahram Gur enthroned after killing the lions ?]
Source: Christies



Bahram Gur enthroned.
The Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, Ireland
Manuscript Per 110
Chapter 35 - Bahram Gur (1) (63 years)
Accession Number: Per 110.72a
Scene: Bahram Gur enthroned
Dimensions (h x w): 114 x 235 mm
Format: Stepped within borders
Reconstructed Folio: 229r
Hijri Date: 741 Dhu'l-Qa'da 20
Gregorian Date: 1341 May 15
School: Shiraz
Source: Shahnama Project / Chester Beatty Library, Dublin

Chapter 35 Bahram Gur (1) (63 years)


Bahrām Gūr in a peasant's house. [Bahram Gur helps the landlord's cow to produce milk again].

Source: The Walters W.677


Bahrām Gūr Slays a Dragon in India.

Source: (35) Freer | Sackler

Chapter 39 Balash son of Piruz (5 years, 1 month, 6 days)


Sarafra'i Kills Khushnavaz in a Night Battle [Khushnavaz fights Sufaray].

Source: Brooklyn Museum

Chapter 41 Kisra Anushirvan (48 years)


King Khusraw (Kisra) Anushirvan Enthroned.

Source: (38) Los Angeles County Museum of Art



Anushirvan's fourth majlis for Buzurjmihr.

Source: Aga Khan Museum AKM36



Gav and Talhand's forces fight for a second time.

Source: Harvard Art Museums



Caesar's envoys before Anushirvan.

Source: Shahnama Project / Chester Beatty Library, Dublin

Chapter 42 Hurmuzd (14 years)



Ayin Gushtasp is murdered.

Source: Shahnama Project / Chester Beatty Library, Dublin

Chapter 43 Khusrau Parviz (38 years)



Bahram Chubina Enthroned.

Source: (48) Minneapolis Institute of Art, USA


Kharrad Recognizes the Princess as being an Automaton [Kharrad Barzin investigates the weeping talisman and reveals its secret?].

Source: (39) The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Chapter 50 Yazdagird (16 years)



Bizhan kills Mahuy and his sons to avenge the murder of Yazdigird and enthronement.

Source: Aga Khan Museum AKM37




Title of Work: Shahnama (1341)
Manuscript: Qavam al-Din
Accession Number: Ir.M. 6/Iv Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Geneva
Chapter 50 - Yazdagird (16 years)
Scene: Finispiece (verso side)
English Title: Finispiece: Enthronement
Format: Irregular, random within borders
Reconstructed Folio: 322v
Hijri Date: 741 Dhu'l-Qa'da 20
Gregorian Date: 1341 May 14
School: Shiraz
Public Notes: The painting forms a finispiece to the manuscript, not illustrating the previous text (the final lines of the Shahnama). This is also the colophon, with the year scratched out.
Shahnama Project / Aga Khan Museum AKM37v

Other Images - chapters unknown


    These paintings belong to a dispersed manuscript that was produced in 741 H / 1341 CE, and is one of three well-known and densely-illustrated Shāhnāma manuscripts made for the court environment of Inju Shiraz, a governorship in the Iranian province of Fars (the other two are dated 1330 [Istanbul, Topkapi Palace Library, H.1479] and 1333 [St Petersburg, National Library of Russia, Dorn329]). Like many a valuable manuscript handled by Western art dealers in the early twentieth century, this Shāhnāma codex was taken apart and sold page by page on the art market, thus scattering the folios to public and private collections around the world. After thorough study, the original pagination of 180 extant folios was reconstructed and 36 collections were identified which currently own folios (Simpson in: Hillenbrand 2000, pp. 217-247). Remarkably, among these farflung fragments, there survive not only the dedication pages from the front of the book (Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, S1986.110v and S1986.111r), but also the final folio containing the colophon statement (AKTC IRM06Iv). This is how it was discovered that the manuscript was made for the Inju wazīr (minister) Hajji Qawam al-Dawla wa-l-Din Hasan, and the calligrapher was Hasan b. Muhammad b. ʿAli b. Husayni al-Mawsili. MC
Source: p.206, Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum, Masterpieces of Islamic Art



Other Illustrations of Ilkhanid Mongols and Successors in 14th Century Persia and surrounds
Drawings of, & notes on, Heavy Cavalry by Ian Heath: Persian Cavalryman c.1320, Persian Cavalrymen c.1335 & Persian Cavalrymen c.1335

Persia Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers
Index of Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers




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