"Nushirvan Promulgates His Reforms", Folio 602v from the Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Shah Tahmasp
Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020)
Painting attributed to Muzaffar 'Ali (active late 1520s–70s; d. ca. 1576)
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
Opaque watercolor, ink, silver, and gold on paper
Painting: H. 10 5/8 x W. 8 1/8 in. (H. 27 x W. 20.6 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
Nushirvan (r. 531–79) became known for the reforms he instituted, especially in the system of taxation. Here he dictates to a scribe a letter to his agents, outlining the new system and also setting forth principles of conduct: judiciousness and absolute scrupulousness in the administration of their duties. Muzaffar 'Ali, who painted this illustration, worked for the Safavid court through the entire reign of Shah Tahmasp. As is typical of works by the second generation of Shahnama artists, the figures here are larger in scale and fewer in number than in comparable Shahnama compositions completed between 1525 and 1530.
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. 127-134.
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. 237 (b/w).
Canby, Sheila R. "The Persian Book of Kings." In The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp. Madrid, 2011. p. 257, ill. (color).
Canby, Sheila R. "The Persian Book of Kings." In The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp. New York, 2014. pp. 299, 330, ill. fol. 602v, full-page color ill. p. 299; detail p. 330.