Rustam Lassoing his Horse, Rakhsh, in a Landscape (recto)

Rustam Lassoing his Horse, Rakhsh, in a Landscape (recto)


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Opaque watercolor, gold, and silver on paper

Sheet: 31.1 x 15 cm (12 1/4 x 5 7/8 in.); Image: 22.6 x 14.7 cm (8 7/8 x 5 13/16 in.)

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John D. MacDonald 1971.305.a



The handsome youth lassoing the feisty colt in this painting is Rustam, the Shahnama's most popular hero. A favorite episode for artists, this event marks a turning point in the fortunes of Iran and offers a wonderful pictorial opportunity.

It occurs in a time of trouble for Iran—the throne is empty and a foreign army has invaded the land. The country needs a mighty warrior to fight for her, and the young Rustam is ready for the challenge—once he finds a horse that can bear his enormous weight!

The herds are gathered for Rustam's inspection: a piebald bay colt catches his eye. For three years no one has been able to capture the colt, known as "Rustam's Rakhsh." Rustam asks what price the herdsman wants for him. The reply: "If you are a true Rustam—a true 'deliverer'—mount him and make the land of Iran aright. The cost of Rakhsh is the soil of Iran and the deliverance of the world!"

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