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No. 58     Ardeshir executes Haftvad


Ferdowsi, Shahnameh
Turkman: Shiraz style, 25 April 1486
Scribe: Na’im al-Din al-kateb al-Shirazi
Patron: Abu’l Fath Baysonghor b. Abi al-Mozaffar Ya‘qub bahador Khan

Opaque watercolour, brush-gold and ink on paper

Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, MSS 713, fol. 437v


This story refers to the beginning of the lucrative silk industry. The Sasanian ruler Ardeshir found himself threatened by Haftvad, who had prospered thanks to a gigantic worm and had established his own formidable fortress. Ardeshir killed the worm by pouring molten lead into its mouth. He then had Haftvad and his son Shahuy suspended from gibbets and shot with arrows — this image illustrates their gruesome fate. On the right, Ardeshir, crowned and under the royal parasol, makes a gesture known as ‘biting the finger of surprise’. Although illustrated in the Commercial Turkman style of Shiraz, this manuscript was produced for a son of the Aq Quyunlu ruler based in Tabriz. For the beginning of Haftvad’s story see No. 99.



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