"Zal Expounds the Mysteries of the Magi", Folio 87v from the Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Shah Tahmasp
Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020)
Painting attributed to Qadimi (active ca. 1525–65)
Painting attributed to 'Abd al-'Aziz (active first half 16th century)
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
Opaque watercolor, ink, silver, and gold on paper
Painting: H. 10 15/16 in. (27.9 cm)
W. 7 1/8 in. (18.1 cm)
Page: H. 18 1/2 in. (47 cm)
W. 12 9/16 in. (31.9 cm)
Mat: H. 22 in. (55.9 cm)
W. 16 in. (40.6 cm)
Frame: H. 23 in. (58.4 cm)
W. 17 in. (43.2 cm)
Gift of Arthur A. Houghton Jr., 1970
Not on view
The Shahnama made for the Safavid ruler Shah Tahmasp (r. 1524–76) is the most luxurious sixteenth‑century copy of this poem about the legendary kings of Iran. It took more than twenty years to complete and involved two generations of the best Safavid artists, including Qadimi, painter of the scene here, who worked on many projects for Shah Tahmasp. In this painting, the hero Zal seeks advice on his wish to marry Rudaba from the wise Magi, seated at the foot of his throne.
Shah Tahmasp, Iran (until 1568; gifted to Selim II); 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; gifted to MMA)
Mohl, Jules, ed. Le Livre des Rois. Vol. I. Paris, 1876. pp. 261-263.
"The Houghton Shah-nameh Miniatures." In Tales from a King's Book of Kings. Corning, NY: Corning Museum of Glass, 1973. no. 7, p. 21.
Welch, Stuart Cary. A King's Book of Kings: the Shah-nameh of Shah Tahmasp. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1972. p. 191.
Dickson, Martin, and Stuart Cary Welch. The Houghton Shahnameh. Vol. vols. I & II. Cambridge, Mass. and London, England: Harvard University Press, 1981. vol. II, ill. pl. 73 (b/w).
Canby, Sheila R. "The Persian Book of Kings." In The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp. Madrid, 2011. p. 93, ill. (color), folio 87v.
Canby, Sheila R. "The Persian Book of Kings." In The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp. New York, 2014. p. 135, ill. fol. 87v (color).