recto Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
The Story of Bahram Gur Hunting (text, recto and verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
Work Type
manuscript folio
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Shiraz
Safavid period
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
37.2 x 24 cm (14 5/8 x 9 7/16 in.)
[Christies, London, 17 October 1995, lot no. 79]. [Mansour Gallery, London, before 1998], sold; to Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood, Belmont, MA (by 1998-2002), gift; to Harvard Art Museums, 2002.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Text folio with title “Bahram Gur hunting”
Recto. Text corresponds with Ramazani (1963) vol. 2, pp. 203 - 205, lines 4752 - 4801; subtitle in text reads, "How Bahram showed his accomplishment in the chase before Munzir."
Verso. Text corresponds with Ramazani (1963) vol. 2, pp. 205 - 207, lines 4802 - 4850; subtitle in text reads, "How Bahram came with Numar to Yazdigird."

Published Catalogue Text: In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art , written 2013
89 A–B

Double page: Bahram Gur Hunts with Azada
A. Verso: text and illustration
Folio: 37.2 × 24 cm (14 5/8 × 9 7/16 in.)
B. Recto: text, with title “Bahram Gur hunting”
Folio: 37.2 × 24 cm (14 5/8 × 9 7/16 in.)

Bahram Gur, a son of Yazdigird III, took his slave girl, a harpist named Azada, on a hunt. As they rode together on his camel, Azada challenged Bahram to do the seemingly impossible: to transform a male gazelle into a female and a female into a male, and to pierce a gazelle’s foot and ear with a single shot. Bahram immediately shot the horns from a buck and sent two arrows into the head of doe; he then grazed a third gazelle’s ear with a stone and, when the animal scratched the nick, pinned its leg to its ear with one arrow.

The artist of the painting has departed from the text, showing a harp-playing Azada, by herself on a camel, watching Bahram Gur hunt on horseback. Between them are a “horned” doe and an unfortunate buck shot through leg and ear. A large hunting party, uncalled for by the text, can be seen in the background, witnessing Bahram’s prowess.

Mika M. Natif

Publication History

Mary McWilliams, ed., In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2013), p. 233, 89 A-B, ill.

Exhibition History

The Sport of Kings: Art of the Hunt in Iran and India, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/22/2005 - 06/26/2005

In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/2013 - 06/01/2013

32Q: 2550 Islamic, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/07/2018 - 04/17/2019

Related Works

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