"Kai Khusrau Enthroned Holding a Sword", 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 13/16 in. (15.5 x 12.3 cm)
Painting: 2 3/8 x 4 11/16 in. (6.1 x 11.9 cm)
Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1934
Not on view
This illustration from the Shahnama shows Kai Khusrau on his throne holding the sword with which he will execute Afrasiyab for the murder of Siyavush, bound and standing before him. Next to Afrasiyab is his brother Garsivaz, the actual murderer of Siyavush, and behind him is an executioner with his sword drawn. The elderly Kai Kavus, grandfather of Kai Khusrau, is seated beside his grandson. In spite of the grim scene, the style is delicate and courtly, as befits its origins in an important cultural center, possibly Baghdad which rapidly became a prominent Ilkhanid city after it was taken and partially destroyed by the new rulers in 1258.
[ 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.
Swietochowski, Marie, Stefano Carboni, Tomoko Masuya, and Alexander H. Morton. "Persian Painting of the 1330s and 1340s." In Illustrated Poetry and Epic Images. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994. p. 103, ill. fig. 30 (b/w).