"Zal Consults the Magi", Folio 73v from the Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Shah Tahmasp, Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020), Opaque watercolor, ink, silver, and gold on paper

"Zal Consults the Magi", Folio 73v from the Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Shah Tahmasp

Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020)
Painting attributed to Sultan Muhammad (active first half 16th century) , assisted by 'Abd al-'Aziz
Workshop director:
Sultan Muhammad (active first half 16th century)
Object Name:
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
ca. 1530–35
Made in Iran, Tabriz
Opaque watercolor, ink, silver, and gold on paper
Painting: H. 11 1/16 x W. 7 1/4 in. (H. 28.1 x W. 18.4 cm)
Entire Page: H. 18 9/16 x W. 12 1/2 in. (H. 47.1 x W. 31.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Arthur A. Houghton Jr., 1970
Accession Number:
Not on view
In this painting, Zal is depicted enthroned as he consults his magi, or Zoroastrian wise men, on how to win his father’s approval to marry Rudaba, the granddaughter of the evil king Zahhak. The phoenix-like bird on the canopy may refer to the simurgh, which saved and nurtured the infant Zal, whose parents had rejected him for being an albino. The sinuous flowering trees often appear in Turkmen painting of Tabriz.
Inscription: In Persian in nasta’liq script, verses from the Shāhnma of Ferdowsī , the story گفتار اندر خواب دیدن سام نریمان (the story of Nariman's dream of Sam)
(Abu’l-Qasim Feardowsi,The Shāhnāmeh (The Book of Kings), ed, Djalal Khalqi- Muṭlagh, Mazda publishers in association with Bibliotheca Persica, Costa Mesa, California and New York, 1988, vol.1, p.202).

Shah Tahmasp, Iran (until 1568; gifted to Selim II); Sultan Selim II, Istanbul (from 1568); Sultan Selim III, Istanbul (by 1800); Baron Edmond de Rothschild, Paris (by 1903–d. 1934); his son, Baron Maurice de Rothschild, Paris and Pregny, near Geneva (by 1955–d. 1957); [ Stiebel Ltd., New York, until 1959; sold to Houghton]; Arthur A. Houghton Jr., New York (1959–70; gifted to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A King's Book of Kings: Persian Miniatures from Shah Tahmasp's Shahnama of 1528," May 4, 1972–December 31, 1972, no catalog.

Museum für Islamische Kunst, Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. "The Arts of Islam. Masterpieces from the M.M.A.," June 15, 1981–August 8, 1981, no. 73.

Musée du Louvre. "La Dynastie Safavide," October 1, 2007–January 7, 2008, no. 22.

Levy, Ruben, ed. The Epic of the Kings : Shah-nama, the National Epic of Persia, by Ferdowski. UNESCO collection of representative works: Persian heritage series; [no. 3]. London: Routledge & K. Paul, 1967.

Welch, Stuart Cary. A King's Book of Kings: the Shah-nameh of Shah Tahmasp. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1972. pp. 132-135, ill. pp. 133-135, folio 73v (color, b/w).

"Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York." In The Arts of Islam. Berlin, 1981. no. 73, pp. 184-185, ill. p. 185 (color).

Dickson, Martin, and Stuart Cary Welch. The Houghton Shahnameh. Vol. vols. I & II. Cambridge, Mass. and London, England: Harvard University Press, 1981. vol. II, ill. pl. 60 (b/w).

Melikian-Chirvani, Assadullah. "L'Art de l'Iran Safavide 1501–1736." In Le Chant du Monde. Paris: Musée du Louvre, 2007. no. 22, pp. 188-189, ill. p. 189 (color).

Canby, Sheila R. "The Persian Book of Kings." In The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp. Madrid, 2011. p. 80, ill. (color), folio 73v.

Canby, Sheila R. The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp: The Persian Book of Kings. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014. p. 122, ill. fol. 73v (color).