verso
Identification and Creation
Object Number
2002.50.44
Title
Yazdigird Murdered by Khusraw the Miller (painting, verso; text, recto), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
Classification
Manuscripts
Work Type
manuscript folio
Date
c. 1480
Places
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Shiraz
Period
Aq Qoyunlu period
Culture
Persian
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/98583
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Ink and opaque watercolor on paper
Dimensions
34.2 x 22.2 cm (13 7/16 x 8 3/4 in.)
Provenance
Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood, Belmont, MA (by 1992-2002), 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
2002.50.44
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Description
Yazdigird III (d. 651) was the last Sasanian king, ruling an empire rapidly losing territories and political power due to constant attacks by the Muslim Arab armies, the Byzantines, and the Turks. He met his end at the behest of the governor of Merv, Mahuy Suri, who learned that the fugitive king had taken refuge in a mill and ordered the miller to execute him. Firdawsi narrates in great detail the shah’s tragic death and laments the extinction of the dynasty, underscoring the treachery and greed of Mahuy and his unworthiness to wear the Iranian crown.
The painting shows the miller as he approaches the king —“as if,” in Firdawsi’s words, “to whisper a secret in his ear”—and then stabs him with a dagger. Yazdigird wears colorful, gold-ornamented clothing and a crown, in contrast to the plain brown dress of the miller. The mill, with its grinding equipment and storage room, is illustrated in considerable detail.

Published Catalogue Text: In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art , written 2013
70

Yazdigird Murdered by Khusraw the Miller
Recto: text
Verso: text and illustration
Aq Qoyunlu period, c. 1480
Folio: 34.2 × 22.2 cm (13 7/16 × 8 3/4 in.)
2002.50.44

Yazdigird III (d. 651) was the last Sasanian king, ruling an empire rapidly losing territories and political power due to constant attacks by the Muslim Arab armies, the Byzantines, and the Turks. He met his end at the behest of the governor of Merv, Mahuy Suri, who learned that the fugitive king had taken refuge in a mill and ordered the miller to execute him. Firdawsi narrates in great detail the shah’s tragic death and laments the extinction of the dynasty, underscoring the treachery and greed of Mahuy and his unworthiness to wear the Iranian crown.

The painting shows the miller as he approaches the king —“as if,” in Firdawsi’s words, “to whisper a secret in his ear”—and then stabs him with a dagger. Yazdigird wears colorful, gold-ornamented clothing and a crown, in contrast to the plain brown dress of the miller. The mill, with its grinding equipment and storage room, is illustrated in considerable detail.

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. 221, cat. 70, 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