"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
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
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 455
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)
Swietochowski, Marie, and Richard Ettinghausen. "Islamic Painting." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin vol. 36, no. 2 (Autumn 1978). p. 10, ill. p. 10 (color).
Swietochowski, Marie, Stefano Carboni, Tomoko Masuya, and Alexander H. Morton. "Persian Painting of the 1330s and 1340s." In Illustrated Poetry and Epic Images. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994. no. 15, p. 91, ill., frontispiece, pl. 15 (color).