"Kai Kavus Falls from the Sky", Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Firdausi
Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020)
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
Attributed to Iran, probably Isfahan
Ink, opaque watercolor, gold, and silver on paper
Painting: H. 2 3/4 in. (7 cm)
W. 4 5/16 in. (10.9 cm)
Page: H. 8 1/8 in. (20.7 cm)
W. 5 5/16 in. (13.5 cm)
Mat: H. 19 1/4 in. (48.9 cm)
W. 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm)
Bequest of Monroe C. Gutman, 1974
Not on view
At the instigation of an evil div, the shah Kai Kavus foolishly tried to fly up to heaven by tying eagles to his throne and legs of lamb above them, so that in striving to reach the meat the eagles would lift his conveyance skyward. When the eagles eventually tired, all plummeted to earth. The ascent is depicted in every known illustration of the episode except this one. Here the ignominious return to earth is most charmingly presented, with a bed of flowers to soften the shah's landing.
Ph. Walter Schulz, Leipzig, Germany (by 1914); Professor O. Moll, Düsseldorf, Germany ; Monroe C. Gutman, New York (by 1929–d. 1974; bequeathed to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Illustrated Poetry and Epic Images: Persian Painting of the 1330s and 1340s," February 1, 1994–May 1, 1994, no. 15.
Swietochowski, Marie, and Richard Ettinghausen. "Islamic Painting." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., vol. 36, no. 2 (Autumn 1978). p. 10, ill. p. 10 (color).
Masuya, Tomoko. "The Condition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Small Shahnama and the Reconstruction of its Text." In Poetry and Epic Images, edited by Marie Lukens Swietochowski, and Stefano Carboni. New York, 1994. pp. 129-145.
Swietochowski, Marie, Stefano Carboni, Tomoko Masuya, and Alexander H. Morton. Illustrated Poetry and Epic Images:Persian Painting of the 1330s and 1340s. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994. no. 15, p. 91, ill., frontispiece, pl. 15 (color).