No. 48     Tahmineh comes to Rostam

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Ferdowsi, Shahnameh
Timurid: Herat, c.1444
Patron: Mohammad Juki b. Shah Rokh

Opaque watercolour, ink and gold on paper

London, Royal Asiatic Society, Persian MS 239, fol. 56v


The scene of Tahmineh visiting Rostam at night with the request to bear his child is one of the most frequently illustrated episodes in the Shahnameh (see Nos. 18 and 28). Rostam’s enthusiasm and Tahmineh’s bashfulness make this is one of the most delightful versions. The exquisite rendering of a princely interior transports the viewer into the fifteenth century. Tahmineh is no longer attended by a woman but by a black eunuch, perhaps reflecting a change in contemporary custom. The depiction of the div shows influence from China or Central Asia.

Together with Nos. 44, 45, 46, 47, 49, 50, 53, 54 and 55, this illustration belonged to a copy of the Shahnameh made for Mohammad Juki b. Shah Rokh, brother of Ebrahim Soltan (the patron of Nos. 33, 34, 35, 36, 38 and 39). Mohammad Juki died before the manuscript was completed. In the early sixteenth century, it came into the possession of a later Timurid ruler, Babur, who took it to India when he founded the Mughal dynasty there.


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