Bahram Gur Fights The Horned Wolf (Painting, Verso; Text, Recto), Illustrated Folio From A Manuscript Of The Great Ilkhanid Shahnama (Book Of Kings)
verso © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

The greatest epic poem in Persian, the Shahnama was written by Firdawsi around 1010 and tells the story of the pre-Islamic kings and heroes of Iran. Although Shahnama episodes are depicted in ceramics made in Iran before the Mongol invasions of the early 1200s, illustrated manuscripts of this text are known only from the fourteenth century onward.

This folio is from a celebrated copy of the text known as the Great Ilkhanid Shahnama, one of the most complex masterpieces of Persian art. Because of its lavish production, it is assumed to have been commissioned by a high-ranking member of the Ilkhanid court and produced at the court scriptorium. The fifty-seven surviving illustrations reflect the intense interest in historical chronicles and the experimental approach to painting of the Ilkhanid period (1256–1335). The eclectic paintings reveal the cosmopolitanism of the Ilkhanid court in Tabriz, which teemed with merchants, missionaries, and diplomats from as far away as Europe and China. Here the Iranian king Bahram Gur wears a robe made of European fabric to slay a fearsome horned wolf in a setting marked by the conventions of Chinese landscape painting.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
1960.190
Title
Bahram Gur Fights the Horned Wolf (painting, verso; text, recto), illustrated folio from a manuscript of the Great Ilkhanid Shahnama (Book of Kings)
Other Titles
Series/Book Title: Shahnama
Classification
Manuscripts
Work Type
manuscript folio
Date
c. 1330-1340
Places
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Tabriz
Period
Ilkhanid period
Culture
Persian
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Opaque watercolor, gold and silver on paper
Dimensions
folio: 41.5 x 30 cm (16 5/16 x 11 13/16 in.)
Provenance
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, New York, NY, (by 1948), bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1960.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller
Accession Year
1960
Object Number
1960.190
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Description
This folio is from a celebrated copy of the text known as the Great Ilkhanid Shahnama, one of the most complex masterpieces of Persian art. Because of its lavish production, it is assumed to have been commissioned by a high-ranking member of the Ilkhanid court and produced at the court scriptorium. The fifty-seven surviving illustrations reflect the intense interest in historical chronicles and the experimental approach to painting of the Ilkhanid period (1256–1335). The eclectic paintings reveal the cosmopolitanism of the Ilkhanid court in Tabriz, which teemed with merchants, missionaries, and diplomats from as far away as Europe and China. Here the Iranian king Bahram Gur wears a robe made of European fabric to slay a fearsome horned wolf in a setting marked by the conventions of Chinese landscape painting.
Publication History

Maurice Sven Dimand, A Guide to an Exhibition of Islamic Miniature Painting and Book Illumination, exh. cat. (Portland, ME, 1933), fig. 10

E. de Lorey, "L'Ecole de Tabriz: l'Islam aux prises avec la Chine", Revue des Arts Asiatiques (January 1, 1935), vol. IX, p.35, plate XIV

Doris Brian, "A Reconstruction of the Miniature Cycle in the Demotte 'Shah-Nameh'", Ars Islamica, Freer Gallery of Art / Smithsonian Institution and University of Michigan (1 January 1939), vol. 6(2), pp. 97-112, no. 53, fig. 26

Ivan Stchoukine, Les peintures du Shan-nameh Demotte, Arts Asiatiques (1958), vol. V, pp. 83-96

Eric Schroeder, "Mrs. Rockefeller's Miniatures at the Fogg", The Connoisseur (August 1961), vol. 148, pp. 70-75, fig. 1

A Survey of the Collections, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1964)

Ernst Grube, The World of Islam (New York, NY, 1966), p. 61, fig. 37

J.B. Travis, "The Battle of Ardawan and Adrashir from the Demotte Shah-Nameh", The Art Quarterly (Spring 1968), vol. XXXI, no. 1, pp. 63-75, fig. 8

David Talbot-Rice, Islamic Painting: A Survey (Edinburgh, Scotland, 1971), pp.94, pl. IV

Marianna Shreve Simpson, Arab and Persian Painting in the Fogg Art Museum, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1980), pp. 11-12, 23, 28-29, no. 6, ill.

Kristin A. Mortimer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums/Abbeville Press (Cambridge, MA; New York, NY, 1985), page 72, figure 75

Sheila Blair and Jonathan Bloom, Art and Architecture of Islam: 1250 - 1800 (New Haven, CT, 1994), 31, fig. 36

James Cuno, Harvard's Art Museums: 100 Years of Collecting, Harvard University Art Museums/Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (Cambridge, MA, 1996), page 128-129

Jonathan Bloom and Sheila Blair, Islam: A Thousand Years of Faith and Power, Yale University Press (U.S.) (New Haven, 2002)

Linda Komaroff, ed., The Legacy of Genghis Khan: Courtly Art and Culture in Western Asia, 1256-1353, exh. cat., Yale University Press (U.S.) (New Haven, CT, 2002), pp155, fig. 182; pp257, num 58

David Roxburgh, "Micrographia: Toward a Visual Logic of Persianate Painting", Islamic Arts (Spring 2003), p.14, fig.2

Exhibition History

Arab and Persian Painting, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 02/10/1981 - 03/09/1981

Portraiture in Iran and India, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 12/09/1983 - 02/01/1984

Diverse are their Hues: Animals in Islamic Art, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 12/18/1984 - 02/09/1985

Paintings for Princes: The Art of the Book in Islam, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/27/1990 - 03/25/1990

Transformations: Asia East and West, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 12/19/1992 - 02/14/1993

Legacy of Genghis Khan: Courtly Art and Culture 1256-1353 (The), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 10/28/2002 - 02/16/2003; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 04/13/2003 - 07/27/2003

32Q: 2550 Islamic, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/01/2014 - 05/14/2015

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

Collection Highlights

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