"The First Combat of Gav and Talhand", Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings)
Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020)
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
Attributed to Iran, probably Isfahan
Ink, opaque watercolor, gold, and silver on paper
Page: 8 1/16 x 5 1/4 in. (20.5 x 13.3 cm)
Painting: 2 3/16 x 4 5/16 in. (5.6 x 11 cm)
Bequest of Monroe C. Gutman, 1974
Not on view
Three battles between two Indian princes - half brothers contending for the throne - resulted in the invention of the game of chess, to explain the death of one of them to their grieving mother. The Persian word shah mat, or checkmate, indicating a position of no escape, describes the plight of Talhand at the end of the third battle. Gav will not kill his brother, who dies nonetheless upon his war elephant, exhausted by the battle and seeing no escape. The half-clad figures seated on the backs of the elephants are Indian mahouts; mounted archers and other warriors can be seen against the red background.
Ph. Walter Schulz, Leipzig (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. 46.
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. 46, pp. 124-125, ill. pl. 46 (b/w).