"Big Head" Shahnameh, Gilan, 1494, Turkman dynasty (Aqqoyunlu), patronised
by Sultan 'Ali Mirza
Detached manuscript page from the epic 'Big-Head Shahnameh' of Firdausi.
Image depicts Kay Khusrau seated on the throne, while Fariburz (wearing a
white turban with feather) kneels to the right. Chained prisoners stand in
the left bottom corner and seated men to the right. Sixteen men appear in
total. Text appears directly above the image. Painted in opaque watercolour
and black ink on paper.
After taking the fortress of Bahman and winning the Iranian throne, Kay
Khusrau received his rival Fariburz, depicted here kneeling at the right of
his throne. This painting comes from a Shahnameh produced for Sultan Ali
Mirza, ruler of the Caspian province of Gilan.
King Kay Kavus promised the throne to the one of two rivals, Kay Khusrau and
Fariburz, who could successfully storm the fortress of Bahman. With divine
intervention the castle wall collapsed and Kay Khusrau won the crown. Here
Fariburz kneels before Kay Khusrau while prisoners from the fortress parade
Fariburz and Kay Khusrau were rivals for the Iranian throne. To determine
who would prevail, King Kay Kavus promised the throne to the one who could
storm the enemy fortress of Bahman. Eventually with divine intervention the
castle wall collapsed, and Kay Khusrau won the crown.
The manuscript was commissioned by the Sultan Ali Mirza of Gilan, and was
produced in two volumes, of which one, is currently in Istanbul.
Acquisition date: 1992
Acquisition name: Purchased from Sotheby's (biographical details | all
Acquisition notes: Purchased from Sotheby's, 29/30th April, 1992, lot 297.
2010-2011 Sep-Jan, Cambridge, The Fitzwilliam Museum, 'Epic of the Persian