Folio from a Shahnama (Book of kings) by Firdawsi (d. 1020); recto: Kay Khusraw and Kay Kavus; verso: text: Afrasiyab captivated by Houm

Detail of a pattern
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At A Glance

  • Period

    1493-1494 (899 A.H.)
  • Geography

    Gilan, Iran
  • Material

    Opaque watercolor, ink and gold on paper
  • Dimension

    H x W: 34.8 x 24.1 cm (13 11/16 x 9 1/2 in)
  • Accession Number



Object Details

  • Calligrapher

    Salik b. Sa'id
  • Patron

    Sultan-Ali Mirza (1478-1504)
  • Description

    Detached folio from a dispersed copy of the Shahnama (Book of kings) by Firdawsi; text: Persian in black nasta'liq script; recto: illustration and text, Kay Khusraw and Kay Kavus; verso: text, Afrasiyab captivated by Houm; four columns, twenty-three lines of text, one of a group of seven folios.
    Border: The text is set in gold, blue and black rulings on cream-colored paper.
  • Inscriptions

    old matting, exterior backing: Vever 154, written in pencil
    old matting, exterior backing: 2 / 7 Vever, written in black ink
    old matting, exterior backing: Ecole Timouride (underlined) page d'un Shah Nameh écrit pour Sultan Mirza Ali of Gilan, vers 1490 selon F. R. Martin (comparer avec la planche 65 Martin), written in black ink
    old matting, interior front matting: Vever 154, written in pencil
    verso: 2, underlined, written in pencil
    verso: ax rs hs, written in pencil
  • Provenance

    Ca. 1490
    Manuscript created for Sultan Ali Mirza of Gilan (part of modern Iran) (reign, 1478-1505) [1]
    Monastery of the Dancing Dervishes, Galata, Istanbul [2]
    Before 1929
    Unidentified foreign diplomat, method of acquisition unknown [3]
    By 1929-1942
    Henri Vever (1854-1942), purchased from Tony and Mathilde Smet or Mathilde Smet after death of her husband [3]
    Jeanne Louise Monthiers (1861-1947), bequest of Henri Vever [4]
    Francois Mautin (1907-2003), bequest of Jeanne Louise Monthiers and Henri Vever [5]
    From 1986
    Arthur M. Sackler Gallery purchased from Francois Mautin [6]
    [1] This folio is from a copy of the Shahnama often referred to as the "Big Head" Shahnama, which is divided into two volumes. The first volume is in the collection of the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in Istanbul (ms. 1978) and the second volume is part of the Istanbul University Library (ms. F. 1406). Several folios have been removed and dispersed from the manuscript around 1900; however, the exact number is not known. Most of the dispersed folios, including this work, seems to originate from the first volume.
    [2] See Armenag Sakisian, "La miniature persane du XIIe au XVIIe siècle" [book] (Paris : G. Van Oest, 1929), 35-36.
    [3] An accomplished French jeweler and collector, Henri Vever (1854-1942) amassed a large and impressive collection of works of art during his lifetime. His holdings in Japanese prints and Islamic arts of the books, especially from Iran and India, were among the most important assembled in the early twentieth century. This work was part of Vever's collection by 1929. See Sakisian, 35. It remained in Vever's collection at the time of his death.
    [4] Upon Henri Vever's death on September 25, 1942, his wife, Jeanne Louise Monthiers inherited the object. See exhibits F and G of Agreement of Purchase and Sale of the Henri Vever Collection, January 9, 1986, copy in object file.
    [5] Upon the death of Jeanne Louise Monthiers, as stipulated in the will of Henri Vever, the family's assets were divided evenly between his two grandchildren. His only grandson, Francois Mautin inherited the collection known as "The Henri Vever Collection of Oriental Art and Manuscripts Including Persian and Indian Art and Manuscripts." This object is part of that collection. See exhibits F and G as cited in note 3.
    [6] The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery purchased the entirety of the collection from Francois Mautin on January 9, 1986. See purchase agreement, copy in object file.
    Research updated June 5, 2023.
  • Collection

    Arthur M. Sackler Collection
  • Exhibition History

    The Art of Painting a Story: Narrative Images from Iran (December 22, 1991 to May 10, 1992)
  • Previous custodian or owner

    Francois Mautin (1907-2003)
    Jeanne Louise Monthiers (1861-1947)
    Henri Vever (1854-1942)
  • Origin

    Gilan, Iran
  • Credit Line

    Purchase — Smithsonian Unrestricted Trust Funds, Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program, and Dr. Arthur M. Sackler
  • Type

  • Restrictions and Rights

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