Rustam meets the challenge of Ashkabus, from a Shah-nama (Book of Kings) of Firdausi (Persian, about 934–1020)

Rustam meets the challenge of Ashkabus, from a Shah-nama (Book of Kings) of Firdausi (Persian, about 934–1020)

c. 1590-1600

Part of a set. See all set records

Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper

Image: 25.4 x 15.7 cm (10 x 6 3/16 in.); Overall: 31 x 20.1 cm (12 3/16 x 7 15/16 in.); Text area: 21 x 13.5 cm (8 1/4 x 5 5/16 in.)

Gift of John C. Heege 1960.199

Fun Fact

The enemy ruler of China sits in a howdah on the back of a white elephant.

Description

Iran was losing a battle against Turan and the armies of its assembled allies from India and China. The hero Rustam arrived to pull the Iranian army back from the brink of destruction, slaying the enemy warrior Ashkabus on foot while allowing his horse Rakhsh to rest after a long, hard journey. The vast number of armies involved in the battle is indicated by the many banners that extend beyond the illustration’s top border. This painting was probably produced at Shiraz, one of Iran’s major cultural centers, far to the south of the Safavid capital of Tabriz. Artists and works of art moved back and forth steadily between Shiraz and the Deccan in southwestern India during the 1500s and 1600s. The section of the Shah-nama on the recto is famous for the clever conversational repartee between Rustam and his opponent Ashkabus. When Ashkabus remarked that in choosing not to ride a horse Rustam had signed his own death warrant, Rustam retorted, “Would it be the case then that in your country . . . lions, tigers, and crocodiles [all] ride on horses to battle?” Rustam then brought down the horse of Ashkabus with a single arrow; his next arrow pierced Ashkabus in the chest.

See also
Collection: 
Islamic Art
Department: 
Islamic Art
Type of artwork: 
Manuscript
Credit line: 
Gift of John C. Heege

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance information, is based on historic information and may not be currently accurate or complete. Research on objects is an ongoing process, but the information about this object may not reflect the most current information available to CMA. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@clevelandart.org.

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

Is something not working on this page? Please email help.website@clevelandart.org.

Request a digital file from Image Services that is not available through CC0, a detail image, or any image with a color bar. If you have questions about requesting an image, please email imageservices@clevelandart.org.