Illustration from the Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp I
f42v: Faridun Tests his Sons.The figures wear early 16th century Persian dress.
In order to decide the division of his kingdom, the good king Faridun put his three sons to the test by appearing to them in the guise of a terrifying dragon. To Salm, named for his prudence in the face of danger, he gave Rum and the West (the Byzantine Roman Empire). To Tur, “whose bravery shines brighter than flames” he gave Turan and China (Central Asia and the Chinese Orient). To his youngest son Iraj, who came up with a sensible solution faced with the dragon, proving that he was the most worthy of all of them, he bequeathed his crown and the kingdom at the centre of the world, Iran and the Arab territories. Iraj’s two older brothers were jealous and plotted to kill him, threatening war if Iraj did not receive a kingdom as distant as theirs. When Iraj visited them, without an army, to make them offers of peace, Tur decapitated him. Faridun was inconsolable, mourning the death of his favourite son and the treachery of his elder brothers. In the years that followed he devoted his attention to the education of his grandson and heir Manuchihr. Salm and Tur discover that Manuchihr has trained in all the arts of warfare, that he commands a powerful army and intends to avenge Iraj’s death; terrified, they send a messenger to Faridun, begging him to pardon them and promising to serve Manuchihr faithfully. Faridun cannot trust them, replying “And we will drench with blood, both leaf and fruit, the tree sprung out of vengeance for Iraj.”
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