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No. 54     Goshtasp slays the dragon


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. 250v


Goshtasp, son of Lohrasp of Iran, asked to succeed his father, but his wish was denied. He travelled to India and then to Rum (Rome or Byzantium), where he fell in love with and married a daughter of the Qeysar (Caesar). He helped two noblemen marry other daughters of the Qeysar by killing a karg (rhino-wolf) and – as seen here – a dragon in their place. Goshtasp is placed partially outside the pictorial space on a blue rock that bursts through the framed boundaries and enhances the dynamics of the scene. The dragon slithers across the page, its pinkish body paralleled by the curve of the large tree in the background.

Together with Nos. 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 53 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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