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"Buzurjmihr Masters the Game of Chess", Folio from the Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Shah Tahmasp

Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020)

Artist:
Painting attributed to 'Abd al-Vahhab
Object Name:
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
Date:
ca. 1530–35
Geography:
Iran, Tabriz
Culture:
Islamic
Medium:
Opaque watercolor, ink, silver, and gold on paper
Dimensions:
Painting: 9 5/8 x 6 7/8 in. (24.4 x 17.5 cm) Entire Page: 18 5/8 x 12 1/2 in. (47.3 x 31.8 cm)
Classification:
Codices
Credit Line:
Gift of Arthur A. Houghton Jr., 1970
Accession Number:
1970.301.71
  • Description

    In negotiations between Iran and India concerning the payment of tribute to Iran, the king of India sent a challenge to the shah. If the shah could figure out the rules of the game that we know as chess from the board and pieces that he sent with his envoy, India would pay the tribute. If the shah failed, Iran would have to pay tribute to India. The wise Buzurjmihr was summoned and, after a day and night, announced that he had mastered the game; he then proceeded to show his skill against the Indian envoy. The light palette and arabesque and cloud-band patterns on the carpets suggest the influence of Shiraz-school painting.

  • Provenance

    Shah Tahmasp, Iran (until 1568); Sultan Selim II, Istanbul (from 1568); Sultan Selim III, Istanbul (by 1800); Baron Edmond de Rothschild, Paris (by 1903–d. 1934); his son, Baron Maurice de Rothschild, Paris and Pregny, near Geneva (by 1955–d. 1957); [ Stiebel Ltd., New York, until 1959; sold to Houghton]; Arthur A. Houghton Jr., New York (1959–70)

  • See also
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    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
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