"Bahram Gur Pins the Coupling Onagers", Folio 568r from the Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Shah Tahmasp

Author: Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020)

Artist: Painting attributed to Mir Sayyid 'Ali (active ca. 1530–75)

Object Name: Folio from an illustrated manuscript

Date: ca. 1530–35

Geography: Made in Iran, Tabriz

Culture: Islamic

Medium: Opaque watercolor, ink, silver, and gold on paper

Dimensions: Painting: H. 11 1/8 in. (28.3 cm)
W. 7 3/4 in. (19.7 cm)
Page: H. 18 9/16 in. (47.1 cm)
W. 12 1/2 in. (31.8 cm)
Mat: H. 22 in. (55.9 cm)
W. 16 in. (40.6 cm)

Classification: Codices

Credit Line: Gift of Arthur A. Houghton Jr., 1970

Accession Number: 1970.301.62


In the springtime Bahram goes hunting and comes across a meadow overrun with onagers. It is the mating season, when stallions compete for mares. When Bahram sees one male onager mounting a female, he lets fly an arrow that pins the two together. This show of prowess earns him the name "Onagers' Bahram," or Bahram Gur.