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(Persian, active about 1516)
(Iranian, c. 1510-1555)
Opaque watercolor, gold, and silver on paper
Sheet: 47.5 x 32.2 cm (18 11/16 x 12 11/16 in.); Image: 28.4 x 18.5 cm (11 3/16 x 7 5/16 in.)
Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 1988.96.a
Devils in the details: three peer into the White Div’s lair by the Caspian Sea.
In this magnificent, refined work of a painter of the Safavid court in Iran, the warrior hero Rustam completes his last of seven herculean labors that established his prowess as a matchless hero. He engages in a ferocious struggle with the chief of demons, the White Div, in order to collect the potent blood from its liver that will restore sight to the Persian king’s blinded eyes. Their battle, which takes place inside a cave, is witnessed by a group of demons who look down from above. Tied to a tree at the side of the cave is a young local ruler who was captured by Rustam to serve as his guide and informer. Rustam’s horse Rakhsh grazes nearby, untroubled by the bloody violence occurring within. Mir Musavvir is one of the Persian artists who came to India from Iran, along with his son, at the invitation of the exiled Mughal emperor Humayun in the early 1550s. The jewellike landscape and refinement of detail are aspects of royal Persian painting that formed the basis of Mughal painting in India.
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