A marbled picture of Rustam catching Rakhsh

A marbled picture of Rustam catching Rakhsh

c. 1650

attributed to Shafi

(Indian, active about 1650)

Opaque watercolor and gold on paper

Page: 37.2 x 21 cm (14 5/8 x 8 1/4 in.)

Gift in honor of Madeline Neves Clapp; Gift of Mrs. Henry White Cannon by exchange; Bequest of Louise T. Cooper; Leonard C. Hanna Jr. Fund; From the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection 2013.286

Fun Fact

Even the flowers and insects used as filler in this composition were marbled.

Description

This scene depicts the young hero Rustam catching a foal, Rakhsh (meaning “light”), who will be his faithful companion through many adventures. A prophet-like shepherd figure with a staff at the upper left predicts that Rustam will be the savior of Iran. At the top of the page a feline has caught its prey, while a hunter steps on its tail. This extraordinary painting has more applications of marbled colorant than any other known example. Even all the flowers and birds have been articulated through marbling in a feat of registration and control by a master of the technique.

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