No. 71     Rostam slays the White Div

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Safavid: Qazvin or Transoxiana, mid- to late 16th century

Watercolour and gold on silk, mounted on card

Private Collection, III.227


As in No. 47, Rostam has defeated the White Div and is extracting its liver to cure the blindness of Key Kavus. This image exemplifies a new fashion for the selection of celebrated episodes, individual figures or small groups for inclusion in albums of drawings and paintings: the traditional two-figure group has been changed from a horizontal to a vertical position. Persian painting on silk is known from c.1400 and tends to be associated with Tabriz or Herat. The Shahnameh records that silk was the normal support for letters exchanged between sovereigns.


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