Portrait of Nushirwan the Just (verso) from a Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Firdausi (940–1019 or 1025)

Portrait of Nushirwan the Just (verso) from a Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Firdausi (940–1019 or 1025)


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Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper

Sheet: 59.3 x 40.2 cm (23 3/8 x 15 13/16 in.); Image: 24 x 22 cm (9 7/16 x 8 11/16 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1959.330.b



Mongol interest in the production of illustrated manuscripts eventually focused on Persian epic poetry. The Shahnama, a compilation of the epics and tales of Iran's legendary heroes, was a natural choice; the book included many subjects that suited Mongol taste, such as banquets, battles, hunting, and magical or fantastic events.

Seated on the throne in the center of the painting is the Sasanian ruler of Iran, Khusraw I Anushirwan (531–579), descendant of Bahram Gur. Above the king's head an inscription reads, "Picture of Nushirwan the Just." The figure in the elaborate turban to the left of the king is probably the young Minister Buzurgmihr, famous for his wisdom and virtue. To celebrate the explanation of a troublesome dream by Buzurgmihr, Nushirwan held a series of seven banquets. The text around this painting describes the fifth banquet.

See also
Islamic Art
Islamic Art
Type of artwork: 

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