Aulad Tied to a Plane Tree, from a Shahnama by Firdausi

Aulad Tied to a Plane Tree, from a Shahnama by Firdausi

1575-1600

Sadiqi Bek

(Iranian, 1533-1609)

Opaque watercolor, gold, and silver on paper

Sheet: 33.5 x 23.5 cm (13 3/16 x 9 1/4 in.); Image: 33.5 x 23.5 cm (13 3/16 x 9 1/4 in.)

Andrew R. and Martha Holden Jennings Fund 1988.101

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Description

This large-scale illustration reflects a new aesthetic with simpler paintings of isolated figures which artists signed for less sophisticated patrons in the marketplace, replacing the previous idealized court style as a result of decreased support under Shah ‘Abbas (reigned 1587-1629). Instead, he improved the infrastructure to increase international trade and the country’s wealth. The scene depicts Aulad who guided the legendary hero Rustam through numerous ordeals. Since Aulad was not entirely trusted, Rustam often tied him to a tree, here a plane tree which shelters a pair of nesting birds. (Aulud is also lashed in the adjacent miniature.) In this scene, Rustam’s dappled horse named Raksh drinks water, its original silver now oxidized to black. The painter, poet, and royal librarian Sadiqi Bek signed his name in tiny script on the brown rock below Aulad.

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