"The Khaqan Captive Before Bahram Gur", Folio 578r from the Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Shah Tahmasp
Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020)
Painting attributed to Qasim ibn 'Ali (active ca. 1525–60)
Mir Musavvir (active 1525–60)
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
Opaque watercolor, ink, silver, and gold on paper
Painting: H. 7 11/16 x W. 6 11/16 in. (H. 19.5 x W. 17 cm)
Entire Page: H. 18 5/8 x W. 12 1/2 in. (H. 47.3 x W. 31.8 cm)
Gift of Arthur A. Houghton Jr., 1970
Not on view
According to his spies the Khaqan of Chin, Iran’s enemy, and his army were camped in a field near Merv. Bahram Gur and his soldiers marched across the breadth of Iran and caught the Khaqan’s army completely off guard. The Khaqan and many of his nobles were captured and the booty divided amongst the troops of Bahram Gur. Here the Khaqan’s captors lead him to Bahram Gur, astride a richly caparisoned horse, while horns blow and the battle ensues in the background. Under the influence of Mir Musavvir, the second supervisor of the Shahnama project, Abu'l Qasim toned down his Turkmen excesses and conformed to a sober decorative style in this illustration.
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. 539-546.
Welch, Stuart Cary. A King's Book of Kings: the Shah-nameh of Shah Tahmasp. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1972. p. 196.
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. 233 (b/w).
Canby, Sheila R. "The Persian Book of Kings." In The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp. Madrid, 2011. p. 253, ill. (color).
Canby, Sheila R. "The Persian Book of Kings." In The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp. New York, 2014. p. 295, ill. fol. 578r.