No. 50     Forud shoots Zarasp

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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. 119v

 

After his fire ordeal, Siyavosh went into exile and was murdered on the order of the Turanian king, Afrasiyab. Key Khosrow, the son of Siyavosh and King Afrasiyab’s daughter, returned to Iran as prince and decided to avenge the murder of his father. He sent an army to Turan, instructing them to avoid the castle of his half-brother, Forud. But the army commander, Tus, approached the castle and when Forud offered to join the avenging army, Tus attacked him. Here, we see Forud shooting Tus’s son Zarasp. Forud’s dramatic posture exploits the fact that the Persian bow was drawn with the thumb. As Zarasp crumples, his horse also feels the shot and strives to maintain its balance. The banner on the lower right may allude to the Persian royal flag, described as violet in the Shahnameh.

Together with Nos. 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 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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