Word and Image in Persian Painting

, Arthur M. Sackler Museum
  • Rustam, Zal and other Pahlavans Pay Homage to Kay Khusrau (painting, verso; text, recto), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama of Firdawsi
  • Mihras, the Envoy of Ceasar, Offers Nushirvan the Treasure of Rum (text, recto; painting and text, verso), illustrated folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama of Firdawsi.
  • Rashnavad Battles the Rumis (painting, verso; text, recto), illustrated folio from the Great Ilkhanid Shahnama (Book of Kings)
  • Zal Consults his Advisors (painting, recto); Rustam Fights the White Elephant (painting, verso), illustrated folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama of Firdawsi
  • Shapur Discovers Mihrak's Daughter at the Well (painting, verso; text, recto), Illustrated folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama
  • Iskandar's Iron Cavalry Battles King Fur of Hind (text, recto; painting, verso), illustrated folio from the Great Ilkhanid Shahnama (Book of Kings)
  • The Final Battle of Gaw and Talhand (painting, recto; text, verso), Illustrated folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
  • Bahram Gur Hunts with Azada (text, recto; painting, verso), illustrated folio from the Great Ilkhanid Shahnama (Book of Kings)
Arthur M. Sackler Museum

This installation complements a graduate seminar that focuses on illustrated texts of the Persian literary tradition, including Firdawsi’s Shahnama (Book of Kings) and Nizami’s Khamsa (Quintet). The selection covers the emergence of illustrated copies of the Shahnama from the early 1300s to the Great Mongol Shahnama of the 1330s—fashioned in the Mongol metropolises of Baghdad and Tabriz—as well as the dissemination of the practice to the Inju court of Shiraz, southern Iran. The latest dated folio comes from the famous Shahnama made for a Safavid ruler of Iran, Shah Tahmasp, between the 1520s and 1540s. The folios point to the diverse artistic strategies and techniques artists applied to render Firdawsi’s poetic imagery and narratives in visual form. The seminar is taught by David J. Roxburgh, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Professor of Islamic Art History, Harvard University.

Teaching gallery installations are mounted in conjunction with Harvard University undergraduate and graduate courses and feature selected objects from the Harvard Art Museums collections. Coordinated by Amy Brauer, Diane Heath Beever Curator of the Collection, Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art, Harvard Art Museums.