"Nushirvan Receives Mihras, Envoy of Caesar", Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings)
Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020)
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
Iran or Iraq
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Text block: 6 1/8 x 4 15/16 in. (15.6 x 12.5 cm)
Painting: 2 3/16 x 4 7/8 in. (5.5 x 12.4 cm)
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]
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.
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).
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).