Bahram Gur Hunts with Azada

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Bahram Gur Hunts with Azada, 1562
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
Manuscript Folio
16th century
Safavid period
Creation Place: Shiraz, Iran
Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
37.2 x 24 cm (14 5/8 x 9 7/16 in.)
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art
, 2002.50.157
Department of Islamic & Later Indian Art
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.
[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.
Mary McWilliams, ed., In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, exh. cat., ed. Mary McWilliams 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
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