"The Night Battle of Kai Khusrau and Afrasiyab", Folio367v from the Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Shah Tahmasp
Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020)
Painting attributed to Bashdan Qara (active ca. 1525–35)
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
Made in Iran, Tabriz
Opaque watercolor, ink, silver, and gold on paper
Painting: H. 12 1/8 x W. 7 1/4 in. (H. 30.8 x W. 18.4 cm)
Entire Page: H. 18 9/16 x W. 12 9/16 in. (H. 47.1 x W. 31.9 cm)
Gift of Arthur A. Houghton Jr., 1970
Not on view
At nightfall, after a day-long battle against Afrasiyab and his army, Kai Khusrau warned his Iranian troops that Afrasiyab would certainly try a surprise night attack. The Iranians dug a ditch across the Turanian route, doused their lights, and maintained silence. Meanwhile, Afrasiyab ordered the attack on the Iranians. When the Turanian army neared the Iranian camp, they let out war cries and charged, but many fell in the trench, and the rest fled. Then Rustam went forward from one side, Giv, Tus, and Gudarz from the other, and massacred the Turanian army. Afrasiyab abandoned his troops and fled. This was his last battle against the Iranians. Bashdan Qara, who illustrated this scene, was one of the journeyman artists of the Shahnama, tasked most often with painting battle scenes.
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)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Gold," April 14, 1973–September 9, 1973, no catalogue.
Mohl, Jules, ed. Le Livre des Rois. Vol. I. Paris, 1876. pp. 111-118.
"Gold." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin vol. 31, no. 2 (Winter 1972/1973). pp. 112-113, ill. p. 113 (color), folio 376v.
Welch, Stuart Cary. A King's Book of Kings: the Shah-nameh of Shah Tahmasp. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1972. p. 194.
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. 187 (b/w).
Canby, Sheila R. "The Persian Book of Kings." In The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp. Madrid, 2011. p. 207, ill. (color), folio 367v.
Canby, Sheila R. The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp: The Persian Book of Kings. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014. pp. 249, 56, ill. fol. 367v, full-page ill. p. 249; detail p. 56.