"Siyavush Displays his Skill at Polo before Afrasiyab," Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings)

Author Abu'l Qasim Firdausi Iranian
Calligrapher Hasan ibn Muhammad ibn `Ali ibn (?) Husaini, known as al-Mausili
Commissioned by al-Hasan Qawam al-Daula wa'l-Din Iranian

Not on view

Illustrations with a red background are typical of Shahnamas copied in Fars, an Ilkhanid province of Southern Iran that broke away and saw a short-lived creation of the dynasty of the Injuids (ca. 1303–57). Shahnamas were copied following Ilkhanid fashion, but red backgrounds and large scale figures were perhaps influenced by wall paintings. The symmetric composition is similar to the combat scene of no. 1974.290.11, emphasizing the warlike significance of polo, an immensely popular game at the Mongol court. Accordingly, the painter interpreted the game as a duel between the two kings (here identified by their crowns), whereas the text explains that Afrasiyab refused to play. Here the horses, fully involved in the spirit of the game, wear leather straps and saddle blankets; they look like Mongolian ponies, though their necks are elongated.

"Siyavush Displays his Skill at Polo before Afrasiyab," Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings), Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (Iranian, Paj ca. 940/41–1020 Tus), Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper

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