Folio from a Shahnama (Book of kings) by Firdawsi (died 1020); recto: Iskandar (Alexander) and the talking tree; verso: text

citation

Detached folio from a dispersed copy of the Shahnama (Book of kings) by Firdawsi; text: Persian in black naskh script, titles in gold naskh outlined in black; recto: illustration and text, Iskandar and the talking tree, six columns, 21 lines; verso: text unrelated to the recto, Jahan takes Afrasiyab’s message to Kay Khusraw, six columns, 31 lines; one of a group of 16 folios.

Historical period(s)
Il-Khanid dynasty, Mongol period, ca. 1330
Medium
Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Dimensions
H x W: 40.8 x 30.1 cm (16 1/16 x 11 7/8 in)
Geography
Iran, Tabriz
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
F1935.23
On View Location
Freer Gallery 04: Engaging the Senses: Art in the Islamic World
Classification(s)
Manuscript
Type

Detached manuscript folio

Keywords
Alexander, Il-Khanid dynasty (1256 - 1353), Iran, Mongol period (1220 - 1380), naskh script, Shahnama, tree, WWII-era provenance
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Previous Owner(s)

Hagop Kevorkian 1872 - 1962
Georges Demotte 1877 - 1923

Description

Detached folio from a dispersed copy of the Shahnama (Book of kings) by Firdawsi; text: Persian in black naskh script, titles in gold naskh outlined in black; recto: illustration and text, Iskandar and the talking tree, six columns, 21 lines; verso: text unrelated to the recto, Jahan takes Afrasiyab's message to Kay Khusraw, six columns, 31 lines; one of a group of 16 folios.

Label

The Shahnama (Book of Kings) was composed in the year 1010 by the poet Firdawsi, and its lively narrative and masterful combination of fact and fantasy provide ample opportunity for visual representation, and the Shahnama remains the most frequently illustrated Persian text. In addition, it also served as an ideal vehicle for the expression of royal authority and legitimacy, and patronage of the epic became almost a royal duty.

Among the most remarkable, now dispersed, illustrated copies of the Shahnama is one commissioned by the Mongol Ilkhanid rulers of Iran (reigned 1256-1335), which included numerous illustrations of the story of Iskandar, also known as Alexander the Great (died 323). Iskandar and the Talking Tree, one of the finest paintings from the Ilkhanid Shahnama, depicts the king's arrival at the end of the world, where he encounters a tree with male and female heads. The talking tree, shown here with both human and animal heads, warns the king of his imminent death in a foreign land. Like much of Ilkhanid art, the painting draws on Chinese pictorial elements, such as the surging rocks and vegetation, to create an unusual and evocative composition.

Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum

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