Folio from a Shahnama (Book of kings) by Firdawsi (died 1020); recto: text and illustration: Kay Khusraw crossing the sea; verso: text

citation

Detached folio from a dispersed copy of the Shahnama (Book of kings) by Firdawsi; text: Persian in black naskh script; heading in red; recto: illustration and text: Kay Khusraw crossing the sea, 6 columns, 20 lines; verso: text: 6 columns, 30 lines; one of a group of 7 folios.

Historical period(s)
Inju dynasty, Mongol period, 1341 (741 A.H.)
Medium
Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Dimensions
H x W: 13.3 x 24.1 cm (5 1/4 x 9 1/2 in)
Geography
Iran, Shiraz
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
F1942.12
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Manuscript
Type

Detached manuscript folio

Keywords
Afrasiyab, Inju dynasty (1335 - 1357), Iran, Kay Khusraw, Mongol period (1220 - 1380), naskh script, Shahnama, WWII-era provenance
Provenance

To 1919
Unknown owner, Persia, to 1919 [1]

From 1919 to 1942
Dikran G. Kelekian, Inc., New York received from Persia in 1919 [2]

From 1942
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Dikran G. Kelekian, Inc., New York, in 1942 [3]

Notes:

[1] According to Curatorial Remark 3, G.D.G, 1942, in the object record: the manuscript "from which the two leaves (F1942.11, F1942.12) were taken was brought to Mr. Kelekian from Persia in 1919."

[2] See note 1. Also, see Freer Gallery or Art Purchase List after 1920, Collections Management Office.

[3] See note 2.

Previous Owner(s)

Dikran G. Kelekian, Inc.

Description

Detached folio from a dispersed copy of the Shahnama (Book of kings) by Firdawsi; text: Persian in black naskh script; heading in red; recto: illustration and text: Kay Khusraw crossing the sea, 6 columns, 20 lines; verso: text: 6 columns, 30 lines; one of a group of 7 folios.

Label

The Shahnama (Book of kings) was completed by the poet Firdawsi in about 1010 and consists of some fifty thousand verses. Recounting Iran's mythical and historical past--from the rule of the legendary Pishdadian dynasty (when time began) to the fall of the Sasanian dynasty in 651--Firdawsi's epic represents the most popular illustrated text in the Islamic world.

The painting on view is from one of the earliest surviving copies of the Shahnama, completed during the rule of the Inju dynasty (1325-53) in Iran's southern province of Fars. It depicts the mythical Persian king Kay-Khusraw, whose long and bitter conflict with Afrasiyab, the king of Turan (lands to the east of Iran), embodies one of the text's central themes--the battle between good and evil. During one of his many campaigns to vanquish his enemy, Kay-Khusraw crosses the sea and arrives at a place known as the "Lion's Mouth," where he observes lions fighting oxen in the waves, men with hair like lassos, a fish with a leopard's head, and a crocodile with the head of an onager. Such lively descriptive passages, mixing fact and fantasy, offered artists ample opportunity to exhibit their creative talents.

Published References
  • Dr. Esin Atil. Exhibition of 2500 Years of Persian Art. Exh. cat. Washington, 1971. cat. 10.
  • Janine Sourdel-Thomine. Die Kunst des Islam. Propyläen-Kunstgeschichte Berlin. fig. 274.
  • Lincoln Paine. The Sea and Civilization: A Maritime History of the World. New York. .
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum

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