Battle between Manuchihr and Tur, from a Shah-nama (Book of Kings) of Firdausi (Persian, c. 934–1020)

Battle between Manuchihr and Tur, from a Shah-nama (Book of Kings) of Firdausi (Persian, c. 934–1020)

c. 1610

Opaque watercolor, ink and gold on paper

Image: 12.4 x 11 cm (4 7/8 x 4 5/16 in.); Overall: 34.6 x 22.9 cm (13 5/8 x 9 in.)

Edward L. Whittemore Fund 1945.171

Fun Fact

Battles were waged to the sound of horns and the beat of drums on camels.

Description

This battle sets the stage for the ages-long enmity in the epic Shah-nama between the people of Iran and Turan—identified as Turkistan, the lands to the east of Iran. The conflict resulted from a bitter family feud that began when a warrior king divided his realm among his three sons; the older two were murderously jealous of the youngest, Iraj, to whom the best lands, those of Iran, were given.
In this painting, the warrior in the center is Manuchihr, the grandson of Iraj, avenging his grandfather’s murder by slaying Tur, Iraj’s older brother to whom the less desirable
lands of Turan were given. The confusion of battle is skillfully rendered through clustering warriors and warhorses together with varied postures, colors, and patterns.

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