verso
Identification and Creation
Object Number
2002.50.122
Title
The Burial of Yazdigird (painting, verso; text, recto), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
Classification
Manuscripts
Work Type
manuscript folio
Date
1562
Places
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Shiraz
Period
Safavid period
Culture
Persian
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/146828
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Dimensions
37 x 23.9 cm (14 9/16 x 9 7/16 in.)
Provenance
[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
2002
Object Number
2002.50.122
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Description
In Firdawsi’s epic, Yazdigird III (d. 651) was assassinated in a mill by order of Mahuy, the treacherous governor of Merv. Two religious ascetics discovered the king’s body, stripped and thrown in a stream. Their fellow monks retrieved it, respectfully anointed it with wine, musk, camphor, and rosewater, clothed it in linen and gold brocade, and placed it in a lofty tomb.
The painting shows a priest blessing the open grave as Yazdigird’s coffin is carried into the mausoleum, followed by a crowd of mourners. The casket, with Yazdigird’s crown at the head, is wrapped in textile strips. In design and decoration, the tomb reflects sixteenth-century Central Asian and Iranian architectural interiors.

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

Double page: The Burial of Yazdigird
A. Verso: text and illustration
Folio: 37 × 23.9 cm (14 9/16 × 9 7/16 in.)
2002.50.122
B. Recto: text, with titles “How Mahuy was informed of Yazdigird’s death and ascended the throne” and “Mahuy’s consultation with the minister and his answer to him”
Folio: 36.7 × 23.7 cm (14 7/16 × 9 5/16 in.)
2002.50.136

In Firdawsi’s epic, Yazdigird III (d. 651) was assassinated in a mill by order of Mahuy, the treacherous governor of Merv (see cat. 70). Two religious ascetics discovered the king’s body, stripped and thrown in a stream. Their fellow monks retrieved it, respectfully anointed it with wine, musk, camphor, and rosewater, clothed it in linen and gold brocade, and placed it in a lofty tomb.

The painting shows a priest blessing the open grave as Yazdigird’s coffin is carried into the mausoleum, followed by a crowd of mourners. The casket, with Yazdigird’s crown at the head, is wrapped in textile strips. In design and decoration, the tomb reflects sixteenth-century Central Asian and Iranian architectural interiors.

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. 234, cat. 91 A, ill.

Exhibition History

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

Related Works

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu