"The Combat of Rustam and Kafur", Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings)
Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020)
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
Iran, probably Isfahan
Ink, opaque watercolor, gold, and silver on paper
Page: 8 1/16 x 5 1/8 in. (20.4 x 13 cm)
Painting: 1 13/16 x 4 1/4 in. (4.6 x 10.8 cm)
Bequest of Monroe C. Gutman, 1974
Not on view
Only the indomitable Iranian hero Rustam could outdo an enemy chief whose armor was magically impenetrable. In this very dynamic battle scene the artist has mistakenly provided Kafur (a foreign king who supposedly fed only on the human flesh of growing youths) with a mace-and an ox-headed one at that. However, the poem relates that it was Rustam who killed Kafur with a blow of his mace and, moreover, the ox head was the symbol of Iranian heroes, from the time of Faridun.
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, 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. 21, pp. 96-97, ill. pl. 21 (b/w), cover (color).