"Isfandiyar Slays Arjasp", 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 5/16 in. (20.5 x 13.5 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
Prince Isfandiyar's sisters were imprisoned in the Brazen Hold by the Turanian chieftain Arjasp. Disguised as a merchant with a caravan laden with desirable goods and treasures, the prince is able to enter the magically impregnable prison. He releases his troops, which are hidden in the caravan boxes, and they capture the Brazen Hold, killing all its defenders; the Iranian hero personally dispatches the reprehensible Arjasp. In the epic, the battle in the fortress takes place in the dead of night, with Arjasp wakened by the din and strapping on his armor. Here, however, he is shown having just been dragged down from his throne by Isfandiyar, who holds him by the hair while cleaving him with his sword; thus the spirit of the narrative is dynamically presented, even if some details are altered.
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.
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. "Persian Painting of the 1330s and 1340s." In Illustrated Poetry and Epic Images. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994. no. 35, pp. 113-114, ill. p. 113 (b/w).