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No. 97     The Simorgh restores Zal to Sam


Ferdowsi, Shahnameh
Mughal Sub-imperial style, c.1600

Opaque watercolour, ink and gold on paper

London, Royal Asiatic Society, Persian MS 241, fol. 49r


As in No. 45, the Simorgh has nurtured the albino child, Zal, that his father, Sam, abandoned on the mountain. Here, the Simorgh has already delivered Zal and Sam is contemplating him joyfully. Zal is fully clothed in princely garments and Sam wears a pyramidal cap whose split brim is swept up and held by swathes of turban, a headdress closely associated with the emperor Homayun (1530–1540 and 1555–1556). The picture may allude to the restoration of Akbar to his father Homayun after the re-conquest of Kabul in 1544. The special significance of this image is supported by the fact that it is the only one with a golden sky in the entire manuscript.



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