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No. 38     Rostam deflects a rock


Ferdowsi, Shahnameh
Timurid: Shiraz, c.1430
Patron: Ebrahim Soltan b. Shah Rokh
Illuminator: Nasr al-Soltani

Opaque watercolours, ink and gold on paper

Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Ouseley Add. 176, fol. 272v


When Shah Goshtasp realized that his son Esfandiyar coveted his throne, he dispatched him to Sistan to bring back Rostam, if necessary in chains, on the pretext that the hero had not come to pay homage. Goshtasp was aware of a prophecy that Esfandiyar would be killed. Esfandiyar sent his son, Bahman, to convey Goshtasp’s demand. On seeing the massive Rostam roasting an onager, Bahman realized that his father’s mission might fail and rolled a boulder down on the hero. Rostam nonchalantly waited until the last moment and we see him here kicking the boulder aside, while continuing to cook his meal.

Together with Nos. 33, 34, 35, 36 and 39, this illustration belonged to a splendid copy of the Shahnameh commissioned by Timur’s grandson, Ebrahim Soltan (1394–1435), son of Shah Rokh, c.1430.



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