Bahram Gur Hunts With Azada
verso © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
2002.50.157
People
Unknown Artist
Title
Bahram Gur Hunts with Azada
Other Titles
Former Title: Bahram Gur's Master Shot Observed by Azada (painting, verso; text, recto), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
Series/Book Title: Shahnama by Firdawsi
Classification
Manuscripts
Work Type
manuscript folio
Date
1562
Places
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Shiraz
Period
Safavid period
Culture
Persian
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Dimensions
37.2 x 24 cm (14 5/8 x 9 7/16 in.)
Provenance
[Christies, London, 17 October 1995, lot no. 79]. [Mansour Gallery, London, before 1998], sold; to Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood, Belmont, MA (by 1998-2002), 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
2002.50.157
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
Descriptions
Description
Bahram Gur, a son of Yazdigird III, took his slave girl, a harpist named Azada, on a hunt. As they rode together on his camel, Azada challenged Bahram to do the seemingly impossible: to transform a male gazelle into a female and a female into a male, and to pierce a gazelle’s foot and ear with a single shot. Bahram immediately shot the horns from a buck and sent two arrows into the head of doe; he then grazed a third gazelle’s ear with a stone and, when the animal scratched the nick, pinned its leg to its ear with one arrow.
The artist of the painting has departed from the text, showing a harp-playing Azada, by herself on a camel, watching Bahram Gur hunt on horseback. Between them are a “horned” doe and an unfortunate buck shot through leg and ear. A large hunting party, uncalled for by the text, can be seen in the background, witnessing Bahram’s prowess.

Published Catalogue Text: In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art , written 2013
89 A–B

Double page: Bahram Gur Hunts with Azada
A. Verso: text and illustration
Folio: 37.2 × 24 cm (14 5/8 × 9 7/16 in.)
2002.50.157
B. Recto: text, with title “Bahram Gur hunting”
Folio: 37.2 × 24 cm (14 5/8 × 9 7/16 in.)
2002.50.158

Bahram Gur, a son of Yazdigird III, took his slave girl, a harpist named Azada, on a hunt. As they rode together on his camel, Azada challenged Bahram to do the seemingly impossible: to transform a male gazelle into a female and a female into a male, and to pierce a gazelle’s foot and ear with a single shot. Bahram immediately shot the horns from a buck and sent two arrows into the head of doe; he then grazed a third gazelle’s ear with a stone and, when the animal scratched the nick, pinned its leg to its ear with one arrow.

The artist of the painting has departed from the text, showing a harp-playing Azada, by herself on a camel, watching Bahram Gur hunt on horseback. Between them are a “horned” doe and an unfortunate buck shot through leg and ear. A large hunting party, uncalled for by the text, can be seen in the background, witnessing Bahram’s prowess.

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)

Exhibition History

The Sport of Kings: Art of the Hunt in Iran and India, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/22/2005 - 06/26/2005

In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/2013 - 06/01/2013

Related Works
Verification Level

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