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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Rustam and the Iranians Hunt in Afrasiyab’s Preserves (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.)


Recorded Ownership History
[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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Verso: The text corresponds with Mohl, vol. 2, lines 518 - 572. The verses describe Kay Kavus regretting his foolish exploits, the gathering of the Champions, and their hunting expedition.

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

Double page: Rustam and the Iranians Hunt in Afrasiyab’s Preserves
A. Verso: text, with title “Rustam banquets and goes to the hunting ground”
Folio: 37.2 × 24 cm (14 5/8 × 9 7/16 in.)
B. Recto: text and illustration
Folio: 37.2 × 23.8 cm (14 5/8 × 9 3/8 in.)

While Rustam was resting and feasting during a break from battle, one of his mighty companions, known as champions, suggested that they go hunting in the territory of their enemy, Afrasiyab, the king of Turan. After a week spent enthusiastically poaching animals and birds, Rustam fully expected retribution from the king, and he was unconcerned when Afrasiyab bore down on the Iranian interlopers with an army of thirty thousand men. Each of his champions, Rustam said, was the equal of five hundred of Afrasiyab’s men.

The lively illustration shows the Iranians hunting, before Afrasiyab’s arrival compels them to resume battle. A group of riders, wearing distinctive Safavid headgear, pursues a host of animals: deer, leopards, rams, and wild onagers. The archer at the upper left is identified as Rustam by his characteristic tiger-skin coat and leopard helmet.

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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