Identification and Creation
Object Number
2002.50.31
Title
Gushtasp Slays a Dragon (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
Classification
Manuscripts
Work Type
manuscript folio
Date
late 16th century
Places
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran
Period
Safavid period
Culture
Persian
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/165369
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Dimensions
34.4 x 21.5 cm (13 9/16 x 8 7/16 in.)
Provenance
[Hadji Baba Ancient Art, London, 1985], sold; to Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood, Belmont, MA (1985-2002), 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
2002.50.31
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Description
Gushtasp was a son of the Iranian king Luhrasp. When his father refused to abdicate in his favor, the impatient young prince left Iran for the capital city of Rum (Constantinople). There the emperor’s eldest daughter fell in love with him despite his guise of a lowly workman; having been promised her choice of a husband, she married him against her father’s wishes. The emperor then decreed that only men of tested valor could marry his two younger daughters. The daughters’ suitors both sought Gushtasp’s help with their assigned feats; secretly taking their places, the prince killed two fearsome monsters.
In this image, Gushtasp acts on behalf of Ahran, the suitor of the youngest daughter, in slaying a terrifying dragon. Although his horse turns away in fear, the prince boldly thrusts his dagger into the dragon’s gaping mouth. The craggy landscape, dead tree, and gusting clouds contribute to the ominous atmosphere of the painting.

Published Catalogue Text: In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art , written 2013
113

Gushtasp Slays a Dragon
Recto: text and illustration
Verso: text
Folio: 34.4 × 21.5 cm (13 9/16 × 8 7/16 in.)
2002.50.31

Gushtasp was a son of the Iranian king Luhrasp. When his father refused to abdicate in his favor, the impatient young prince left Iran for the capital city of Rum (Constantinople). There the emperor’s eldest daughter fell in love with him despite his guise of a lowly workman; having been promised her choice of a husband, she married him against her father’s wishes. The emperor then decreed that only men of tested valor could marry his two younger daughters. The daughters’ suitors both sought Gushtasp’s help with their assigned feats; secretly taking their places, the prince killed two fearsome monsters.

In this image, Gushtasp acts on behalf of Ahran, the suitor of the youngest daughter, in slaying a terrifying dragon. Although his horse turns away in fear, the prince boldly thrusts his dagger into the dragon’s gaping mouth. The craggy landscape, dead tree, and gusting clouds contribute to the ominous atmosphere of the painting.

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. 248, cat. 113, ill.

Exhibition History

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

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