"Birth of Zal", Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings), Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020), Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper

"Birth of Zal", Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings)

Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020)
Attributed to Siyavush (ca. 1536–1610)
Shah Isma'il (r. 1576–77)
Object Name:
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
Attributed to Iran, Qazvin
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
H. 17 3/4 in. (45.1 cm)
W. 12 1/8 in. (30.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1934
Accession Number:
Not on view
This page comes from a manuscript of the Persian epic, the Shahnama (Book of Kings), produced for Shah Isma'il II (r. 1576–77). It depicts a scene from the story of the Birth of Zal, who would become one of the great warrior heroes of the epic. After his birth, Zal was rejected and left to die in the wilderness by his father Sam, here pictured enthroned. The baby Zal was saved by the legendary fantastical bird, the simurgh, and eventually reunited with his father to rule Iran. In addition to the illustration, this page features four columns of text in nasta'liq script.
Demotte, Inc., New York, until 1934; sold to MMA ]
Rome. Palazzo Brancaccio. "Mostra d'arte Iranica," May 20, 1956–June 20, 1956.

Art Treasures of the Metropolitan. 1st ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1952. no. 207, ill. pl. 207 (color).

Bussagli, Mario, ed. "Exhibition of Iranian Art. Palazzo Brancaccio, Giugno-Agosto 1956." In Mostra d'Arte Iranica. Milan: Silvana, 1956.

Grube, Ernst J. "from Collections in the United States and Canada." In Muslim Miniature Paintings from the XIII to XIX Century. Venice: N. Pozza, 1962. p. 82 (listed), ill.