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No. 34     Rostam slays a dragon

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Ferdowsi, Shahnameh
Timurid: Shiraz, c.1430
Patron: Ebrahim Soltan b. Shah Rokh
Illuminator: Nasr al-Soltani

Opaque watercolours, ink and gold on paper

Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Ouseley Add. 176, fol. 68v

 

Rostam, like Hercules, faced many trials, notably the Seven Perils he encountered in the Caspian province of Mazandaran, while on his way to rescue King Key Kavus who had been captured by divs (demons). This action-filled image shows the third Peril. Rostam’s watchful steed, Rakhsh, had woken his owner twice during the night when he saw the dragon approaching, but as soon as Rostam opened his eyes, the dragon disappeared. Here, the dragon appears for the third time, the hero attacks him and cuts off his head. Rostam is shown in his emblematic tiger-skin coat and snow-leopard cap.

Together with Nos. 33, 35, 36, 38 and 39, this illustration belonged to a splendid copy of the Shahnameh commissioned by Timur’s grandson, Ebrahim Soltan (1394–1435), son of Shah Rokh, c.1430.

 

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