Folio from a Shahnama (Book of kings) by Firdawsi (d.1020); recto: text, The departure of Ka’us and Kai Khusraw to the fire temple; verso: Shah Ka’us and Kay Khusraw approach the sacred fire

Detached folio from a dispersed copy of the Shahnama (Book of kings) by Firdawsi; text: Persian in black nasta’liq script; recto: text: The departure of Ka’us and Kai Khusraw to the fire temple, 4 columns, 21 lines; verso: Illustration and text: Shah Ka’us and Kay Khusraw approach the sacred fire, 4 columns,10 lines.
Border: The text and the painting are set in gold and black rulings on cream-colored paper.

Historical period(s)
Turkmen period, dated 1482
Medium
Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper
Dimensions
H x W: 9.5 x 16 cm (3 3/4 x 6 5/16 in)
Geography
Iran, Shiraz
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1940.20
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Manuscript
Type

Manuscript folio

Keywords
epic, fire, horse, Iran, Kay Kavus, Kay Khusraw, nasta'liq script, shah, Shahnama, temple, Turkmen period (1378 - 1508), WWII-era provenance
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Description

Detached folio from a dispersed copy of the Shahnama (Book of kings) by Firdawsi; text: Persian in black nasta'liq script; recto: text: The departure of Ka'us and Kai Khusraw to the fire temple, 4 columns, 21 lines; verso: Illustration and text: Shah Ka'us and Kay Khusraw approach the sacred fire, 4 columns,10 lines.
Border: The text and the painting are set in gold and black rulings on cream-colored paper.

Label

By the latter part of the fifteenth century, the once-powerful Timurid empire was confined to the eastern frontier. Much of the central and western regions were controlled by a confederation of Turkmans. Although plagued by continuous political and military conflict, Turkman rulers, like their Timurid counterparts, actively supported the arts of the book as a means to bolster their dynastic reputation.

This illustrated folio is from a Turkman copy of the Shahnama and represents the Persian rulers Kay-Kavus and Kay-Khusraw visiting the sacred fire, a central symbol of Zoroasterism, the ancient religion of Iran. Drawing on local artistic traditions as well as Timurid aesthetic cannon, Turkman painters favored brightly colored and relatively simple compositions.

Published References
  • James Waterson. The Ismaili Assassins: A History of Medieval Murder. London. pl. 11.
  • Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, Byron Haines, Ellison Findly. The Islamic Impact., 1st ed. Syracuse. .
  • Richard Ettinghausen. From Byzantium to Sasanian Iran and the Islamic World: Three Modes of Artistic Influence. The L.A. Mayor Memorial Studies in Islamic Art and Archaeology Leiden. pl. 89.
  • Dr. Esin Atil. Exhibition of 2500 Years of Persian Art. Exh. cat. Washington, 1971. cat. 23, p. 8.
  • Ruth Warner. Persian Delight. vol. 9, no. 1 New York, January 1958. p. 23.
  • Art et Societe dans le Monde Iranien. Bibliotheque Iranienne, no. 26 Paris. pp. 36-37.
  • B. W. Robinson. Persian Painting and the National Epic. Annual Lecture on Aspects of Art, Henriette Hertz Trust of the British Academy London. p. 288, pl. 10, fig. 16.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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