Jun 12, 2014

Tahmina comes to Rustam’s chamber, from a Shah-nama (Book of Kings) of Firdausi (Persian, about 934–1020)

Tahmina comes to Rustam’s chamber, from a Shah-nama (Book of Kings) of Firdausi (Persian, about 934–1020)

1450-1500

Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper; calligraphy on verso

Sheet: 26 x 20.3 cm (10 1/4 x 8 in.); Matted: 38.1 x 50.8 cm (15 x 20 in.)

On Loan from the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection 23.2014

Location

Did you know?

The flame of the handmaiden’s lamp lights the way to the drunken Rustam.

Description

This page shows a scene from one of the most famous episodes of the Shah-nama. While Rustam was visiting the court of a king in northern Afghanistan, the princess Tahmina entered his bedchamber one night. She explained to Rustam that she had fallen in love with him after hearing of his exploits. They spent that night together, and Rustam left the next day. Tahmina bore Rustam’s son, Suhrab, who would meet his death in a tragic battle at the hands of his father, who did not recognize him. Verso page is from a copy of the Shah-nama that was produced before the advent of the Mughal Empire in India. It was probably made for one of the Muslim rulers who were not as wealthy and controlled regions in India less extensive than those of the Mughals. Pre-Mughal Sultanate rulers of India also looked to Persian court culture as a model of courtly refinement and sophistication, which included the reading and appreciation of Firdausi’s epic work.

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