"Nushirvan Receives Mihras, Envoy of Caesar", Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings)
Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020)
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
Made in Iran or Iraq
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Image 5 3/8 in x 6 9/16 in.
Page 7 1/8 in. x 8 1/4 in.
Mat 14 1/14 in. x 19 1/4 in.
Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1934
Not on view
The Byzantine emperor, concerned about the possibility of an invasion by the mighty Iranian forces, sent an embassy under his general Mihras carrying a letter of conciliation and lavish gifts, and a peaceful agreement was eventually concluded. In the miniature, the letter–which assumes a special significance in this context, since the Ilkhanid rulers and the Catholic pope exchanged similar missives–and the gifts in the form of gold cups are shown at the foot of the shah's throne. Mihras is represented as a type of Crusader, something between a warrior and a priest, wearing a helmet and holding a cross.
[ Heeramaneck Galleries, New York, until 1934; sold to MMA]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Legacy of Genghis Khan: Courtly Art and Culture in Western Asia 1256-1353," October 28, 2002–February 16, 2003, no. 35.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "The Legacy of Genghis Khan: Courtly Art and Culture in Western Asia 1256-1353," April 13, 2003–July 27, 2003, no. 35.
Los Angeles. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Gifts of the Sultan: The Arts of Giving at the Islamic Courts," June 5, 2011–September 5, 2011, no. 237.
Houston. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "Gifts of the Sultan: The Arts of Giving at the Islamic Courts," October 23, 2011–January 15, 2012, no. 237.
Dimand, Maurice S. Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin vol. 29 (1934). pp. 58-60.
Simpson, Marianna. "The Illustration of an Epic: The Earliest Shahnama Manuscripts." PhD diss., Garland Publishing, Inc., 1979.
Rossabi, Morris, Charles Melville, James C.Y. Watt, Tomoko Masuya, Sheila S. Blair, Robert Hillenbrand, Linda Komaroff, Stefano Carboni, Sarah Bertelan, and John Hirx. The Legacy of Genghis Khan: Courtly Art and Culture in Western Asia, 1256–1353, edited by Stefano Carboni, and Linda Komaroff. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002. no. 35, pp. 203, 253, ill. fig. 244 (color).
Komaroff Linda, ed. "The Arts of Giving at the Islamic Courts." In Gifts of the Sultan. Los Angeles; New Haven and London: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2011. no. 237, pp. 79, 295, ill. fig. 71 (color).