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Iran

Rustam shoots Isfandiyar in the eyes, page from a Shahnama

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Object Details

Culture

Iran
Safavid period

Date

16th century

Medium

Opaque watercolors and gold on paper

Dimensions

Image: 9 5/8 × 5 1/4 inches (24.4 × 13.3 cm)
Sheet: 13 7/8 × 8 3/8 inches (35.2 × 21.3 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Professor M. H. Abrams, in honor of Frank Robinson

Object
Number

2011.007.007

One of the most celebrated characters of the Shahnama (Book of Kings), Rustam is a great folk hero w(…)

One of the most celebrated characters of the Shahnama (Book of Kings), Rustam is a great folk hero who protects Iran’s monarchy from its enemies. When King Gushtasp ordered Isfandiyar to bring Rustam to his court in chains, Isfandiyar was reluctant to do so because of Rustam’s heroism, but was compelled by the promise that Isfandiyar would be made king. In this scene Rustam takes revenge on Isfandiyar, who in a previous battle slayed Rustam’s sons and left Rustam for dead. Revived by the mythical bird Simurgh, Rustam surprises Isfandiyar, shooting the double-headed arrow that the Simurgh instructed Rustam to make from a tamarisk tree. The arrow fatally injures Isfandiyar: he drops his bow, pulls the arrow from his eye before falling from his horse and, as he dies, forgives Rustam.The Persian empire’s great epic, the Shahnama recounts the history of Iran from the creation of the world to the Islamic conquest. It was completed in the early eleventh century by Abu’l Qasim Firdausi in the form of a long poem of 50,000 rhyming couplets.

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