"Isfandiyar's Fourth Course: He Slays a Sorceress", Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Firdausi

Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020)
Object Name:
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
ca. 1330–40
Attributed to Iran, probably Isfahan
Ink, opaque watercolor, gold, and silver on paper
Page: H. 7 7/8 in. (20 cm)
W. 5 3/8 in. (13.6 cm)
Painting: H. 1 13/16 in. (4.6 cm)
W. 4 1/4 in. (10.8 cm)
Mat: H. 19 1/4 in. (48.9 cm)
W. 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Bequest of Monroe C. Gutman, 1974
Accession Number:
Not on view
Depictions of the encounter of Isfandiyar and the sorceress customarily show the witch in her true form - as a hideous hag - rather than in the guise of a beautiful maiden as she first appears. In this idyllic scene, set in an oasis in the desert, the hero, who knows her true personality, lures her with the sound of his lute. He will soon offer her wine to get her drunk and strike her with his sword.
Ph. Walter Schulz, Leipzig, Germany (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. 33.

Ettinghausen, Richard. "Islamic Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin vol. 33, no. 1 (Spring 1975). ill. p. 13 (color).

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. 33, pp. 110-111, ill. pl. 33 (color).