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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Episodes from the Story of Hurmuzd (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
37.1 x 23.7 cm (14 5/8 x 9 5/16 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
[Christies, London, 17 October 1995, lot no. 79]. [Mansour Gallery, London, before 1997], sold; to Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood, Belmont, MA (by 1997-2002), 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 “A brand is applied to King Hurmuzd’s eyes”
Recto. Text corresponds with Ramazani (1963) vol. 5, pp. 77-79, lines 1870 - 1925; text describes Hurmuzd sending Ayin Gashasp with an army to fight against Bahram Chubina, and how he was slain by his comrade.
Verso. Text corresponds with Ramazani (1963) vol. 5, pp. 79-81, lines 1926-1977; text describes how Hurmuzd was blinded by Bandawi and Gustaham.

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

Double page: Gushtaham and Banduy Blind Hurmuzd
A. Verso: text, with title “A brand is applied to King Hurmuzd’s eyes”
Folio: 37.1 × 23.7 cm (14 5/8 × 9 5/16 in.)
B. Recto: text and illustration
Folio: 37.1 × 24 cm (14 5/8 × 9 7/16 in.)

King Hurmuzd was deceived into suspecting his son, Khusraw Parviz, of rebellion. Forewarned of his father’s plan to put him to death, Khusraw escaped from Iran. Hurmuzd, suspecting his brothers Gushtaham and Banduy of siding with Khusraw, imprisoned them. With the king dispirited and in seclusion, however, the prisoners escaped, armed themselves, and rode to the royal palace, where their troops blinded the king.

The illustration depicts the gruesome moment when hot iron rods are put to Hurmuzd’s eyes. Instead of armed rebels, those who observe this scene are court officials, who display little emotion. Moreover, three women on the palace balcony seem entirely unaware of the event.

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)

Exhibition History

Related Works

Verification Level

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