Tahmina Comes Into Rustam's Chamber, Illustrated Folio From A Manuscript Of The Shahnama Of Firdawsi
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
1939.225
Title
Tahmina Comes into Rustam's Chamber, illustrated folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama of Firdawsi
Classification
Manuscripts
Work Type
manuscript folio
Date
c. 1434
Places
Creation Place: Central Asia, Afghanistan, Herat
Period
Timurid period
Culture
Persian
Location
Level 2, Room 2550, Art from Islamic Lands
View this objects location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Dimensions
painting: 20.8 x 10.5 cm (8 3/16 x 4 1/8 in.)
Page: 30 x 17.5 cm
Provenance
H. Khan Monif, New York, NY, (by 1939), sold; to Fogg Art Museum, 1939.
Aquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Mrs. Elise Cabot Forbes and Mr. Eric Schroeder and Annie S. Coburn Fund
Accession Year
1939
Object Number
1939.225
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
Descriptions
Description
This Shahnama painting shows the new direction manuscript painting took in the Timurid court workshops of the fifteenth century. Highest quality materials were applied with exquisite draftsmanship at a very small scale and in a two-dimensional space. Although no text is preserved, later compositions based on this painting confirm that it illustrates the Shahnama episode where Tahmina, the beautiful daughter of the King of Samangan, comes quietly at night to Rustam’s chamber to tell him that she wishes to marry him and bear his child. Caught by surprise but enticed by her charm Rustam spends the night with Tahmina. The painting draws our attention to the nonverbal communication between Tahmina and Rustam as well as the fine details of the setting. A bejeweled Tahmina wearing a fur-lined coat looks coyly behind the candle held by her chambermaid. Rustam, shown under the covers, gazes intently at her figure with his hand on a pillow beckoning her. His armor and weapons, situated behind his bed, are symbolic of his heroic valor. With such jewel-like details this painting is not only a great work of art, but a testimony to the splendor of Timurid palace interiors, now lost.

Label Text: Islamic Art: East and West, written 1982
Iran, Timurid, Herat, ca. 1430–40
Tahmina Comes to Rustam’s Chamber
From an unidentified Shahnama (Book of Kings)
Gift – Mrs. Elsie Cabot Forbes, Mrs. Eric Schroeder, and the Annie S. Coburn Fund 1939.225

Label Text: The Sensuous and the Sublime, written 2001
Tahmina Comes to Rustam's Chamber
Folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Firdausi Afghanistan, Herat, Timurid period, c. 1410
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Gift of Mrs. Elise Cabot Forbes, Mrs. Eric Schroeder, and the Annie S. Coburn Fund
1939.225

Label Text: Paintings for Princes: The Art of the Book in Islam, written 1990
Tahmina Comes to Rustam’s Chamber
From an unknown Shahnama
(Book of Kings) of Firdawsi
Iran, Timurid Herat, ca. 1534 – 50
Opaque watercolor on paper
Gift of Mrs. Elsie Cabot Forbes, Mrs. Eric Schroeder, and the Annie S. Coburn Fund
1939.225

Label Text: Transformations: Asia East and West, written 1992
Tahmina Comes to Rustam's Chamber
Illustration from a Shahnama (Book of Kings)
Iran, Timurid, Herat, early 15th century
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Gift of Mrs. Elsie Cabot Forbes, Mrs. Eric Schroeder, and the Annie S. Coburn Fund
1939.225

Publication History

Phyllis Ackerman, Guide to the Exhibition of Persian Art, exh. cat., Iranian Institute (New York, NY, 1940), pp.251-252

Eric Schroeder, Persian Miniatures in the Fogg Museum of Art, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1942), page 51-52/figure 8

Basil William Robinson, Drawings of the Masters: Persian Drawings from the 14th through the 19th Century, Shorewood Publishers Inc. (New York, NY, 1965), pp 131, plate 2

Marianna Shreve Simpson, Arab and Persian Painting in the Fogg Art Museum, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1980), page 35-37/figure 8

Michele de Angelis and Thomas W. Lentz, Architecture in Islamic Painting: Permanent and Impermanent Worlds, brochure, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, Mass, 1982)

A. M. Kevorkian and J.P. Sicre, Les Jardins du desir: Sept siecles de peinture persane, Phebus (Paris, France, 1983), pp30-31

Wiebke Walther, Die Frau im Islam (1983), p. 30, fig. 19

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 73/figure 76

Thomas W. Lentz and Glenn D. Lowry, Timur and the Princely Vision: Persian Art and Culture in the Fifteenth Century, exh. cat., Museum Associates (Los Angeles, CA, 1989), pp130-131, 338, cat. no.45

Andrew Pekarik, Painting Behind the Scenes, Hyperion Press (New York, NY, 1992), pg. 16, color

James Cuno, Harvard's Art Museums: 100 Years of Collecting, Harvard University Art Museums/Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (Cambridge, MA, 1996), page 130-131

Ehsan Yarshater and Stuart Cary Welch, The Lion and the Throne: Stories From the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi Volume I, Mage Publishers (Washington, D.C, 1998), page 270/details on pgs 208, 210

Eleanor Sims, Boris I. Marshak, and Ernst Grube, Peerless Images: Persian Painting and its Sources, Yale University Press (New Haven; London, 2002), pp. 195-196, fig. 108

Stephan Wolohojian, ed., Harvard Art Museum Handbook, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 2008), p. 51

Oliver Watson, "The Case of the Ottoman Table", Journal of the David Collection, ed. Kjeld von Folsach and Joachim Meyer, The David Collection (Copenhagen, 2010), Vol. 3, pp.22-53., p. 42, fig. 29.

Exhibition History

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

The House of Timur: Princely Arts in Fifteenth-Century Iran and Central Asia, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, 04/14/1989 - 07/06/1989; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 08/13/1989 - 11/05/1989

Islamic Art: The Power of Pattern, Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 09/23/1989 - 01/17/1990

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

In Detail: Looking at Persian, Turkish and Indian Pictures, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/11/1995 - 01/21/1996

The Sensuous and the Sublime, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 07/07/2001 - 12/30/2001

Romantic Interludes: Women in Firdawsi's Shahnama, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, 04/24/2010 - 01/16/2011

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Verification Level

3 - Good. Object is well described and information is vetted