"Buzurjmihr Masters the Game of Chess", 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
Entire Page: 8 1/16 x 4 7/8 in. (20.5 x 12.4 cm)
Painting: 3 1/8 x 4 in. (8 x 10.2 cm)
Mat: 19 1/4 x 14 1/4
Frame: 22 x 17
Bequest of Monroe C. Gutman, 1974
Not on view
The king of Hind sent his ambassador to Nushirvan with a game of chess, challenging the Iranians to figure out how it was played. Only the young Buzurjmihr was able to do so within the time limit. Here, he is seen seated opposite the Indian ambassador (traditionally depicted in Persian paintings as a religious mendicant, regardless of rank or calling), demonstrating the game to Nushirvan, who is enthroned in a pose identical to that of the ruler in several of the miniatures in the most accomplished illustrated manuscript of the period, the great Ilkhanid Shahnama made in Tabriz.
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.
New York. Asia Society. "Asian Games: The Art of Contest," October 14, 2004–January 18, 2005.
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. "Asian Games: The Art of Contest," February 26, 2005–May 15, 2005.
Middlebury College Museum of Art. "Asian Games: The Art of Contest," September 8, 2005–December 11, 2005.
Doha. Museum of Islamic Art, Doha. "Kings & Pawns," March 18, 2014–June 21, 2014.
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. 45, pp. 123-124, ill. p. 123 (b/w).
Mackenzie, Colin, and Irving Finkel, ed. Asian Games The Art of Contest. New York: Asia Society, 2004. no. 12:7, p. 142, ill. pl. 12:7 (color).