No. 104     Key Kavus airborne

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Ferdowsi, Shahnameh
Late Mughal: Lahore or Delhi, first quarter of the 19th century

Opaque watercolour, ink and gold on paper

Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, MSS 723


As in No. 42, Key Kavus has been tempted to take to the skies in a throne powered by eagles. Astrologers, mentioned briefly in the text as replying to a question from the king, are given a considerable importance in this image. It is as though science were taking over from legend. The picture, which has been set into 16th-century margin paper at some point, probably dates to the early 19th century. This is suggested by the soft treatment of the landscape and the presence of the chupan, the straight-cut, long-sleeved coat worn over the shoulders by two attendants, which was characteristic of the nineteenth century and is still worn in Afghanistan today. 


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 • No. 104

The Fitzwilliam Museum : The Shahnameh in India

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