Hagop Kevorkian (1872-1962), New York to 1930 
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Hagop Kevorkian, New York in 1930 
 Object file, undated folder sheet note. See also Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List file, Collections Management Office.
 See note 1.
- Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)
Hagop Kevorkian 1872-1962
Detached folio from a dispersed copy of the Shahnama (Book of kings) by Firdawsi; text: Persian in black naskhi script; recto: Sudaba makes accusations against Siyavush, 6 columns, 18 lines; verso: blank; one of a group of 4 folios.
Border: The painting is set in gold, black and blue rulings on cream-colored paper.
Although the arts of the book in Iran enjoyed great prestige prior to the Mongol invasion of the mid-thirteenth century, the earliest extant illustrated manuscripts date from the reign of the Ilkhanid dynasty (1256-1336). Among this group are several copies of the Shahnama (Book of kings), the Persian national epic. Composed in the year 1010 by the poet Firdawsi, the Shahnama recounts the stories of legendary and historical kings and heroes. Its colorful combination of fact and fantasy has meant that it is the most frequently illustrated text in Iran. The two folios on view are from the earliest known copies, referred to as the first and second "small" Shahnama, respectively.
The folio on the left depicts a scene from the story of Siyavush, the son of King Kay-Kavus. According to Firdawsi, when Siyavush rejects the advances of Sudaba, his stepmother, she approaches her husband, who was also Siyavush's father, King Kay-Kavus, "wailing aloud and weeping abundant terars," accusing Siyavush of improper behavior. Although "miniaturized," the illustration of this episode from the first small Shahnama is highly animated and expressive.
The second Shahnama painting is from the story of Bizhan and Manizha. The first known illustration of this narrative cycle appears on the small thirteenth-century beaker, also on view in this gallery. According to the Shahnama, when Bizhan and Manizha fall in love, Manizha's father tries to prevent this liaison by executing Bizhan. "Stripped naked, both arms tied firm as a rock behind his back," Bizhan's condition inspires pity in one of the king's advisers who persuades the king to postpone the execution.
- Published References
- Richard Ettinghausen, Ernst Kuhnel. A Survey of Persian Art from Prehistoric Times to the Present. 6 vols., London and New York, 1938 - 1939. vol. 3: p. 1834, vol. 5, pl. 831d.
- Eleanor Sims, Boris I. Marshak, Ernst Grube. Peerless Images: Persian Painting and its Sources. New Haven and London. p. 42.
- Marianna Shreve Simpson. The Illustration of an Epic: The Earliest Shahnama Manuscripts. Outstanding Dissertations in the Fine Arts New York and London. pp. 86, 150, 167, fig. 20.
- Collection Area(s)
- Arts of the Islamic World
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