recto
Identification and Creation
Object Number
2002.50.163
Title
Rustam Fending off the Rock Dropped by Bahman (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
Classification
Manuscripts
Work Type
manuscript folio
Date
1562
Places
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Shiraz
Period
Safavid period
Culture
Persian
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/146270
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Dimensions
37 x 24.1 cm (14 9/16 x 9 1/2 in.)
Provenance
[Christies, London, 17 October 1995, lot no. 79]. [Mansour Gallery, London, before], 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
2002.50.163
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Description
King Gushtasp sent his son Isfandiyar to bring the mighty hero Rustam to court in chains, promising Isfandiyar the throne if he could accomplish this feat. Searching for Rustam, Isfandiyar’s son Bahman came upon the hero roasting an onager in his hunting grounds and decided to kill him immediately, sparing his father a dangerous confrontation. From the top of a mountain he pried loose a large boulder and sent it rolling downhill toward Rustam, whose brother Zavara heard the noise and cried out in warning. Rather than move, however, the hero calmly waited until the stone was nearly upon him and then kicked it away. Impressed by Rustam’s power, Bahman approached him and told him of Isfandiyar’s mission.
In the painting, Rustam is shown at the crucial moment of danger, yet, as the text describes, he remains seated, roasting his supper on a spit and merely stretching out his leg to kick away the large rock. Next to him his horse, Rakhsh, grazes undisturbed. Rustam’s hunting party rounds the horizon at the upper right, unaware of the incident, but two figures at the lower left witness and point at the scene. From behind the rocky ridge on the left, Bahman looks on, his finger to his mouth in astonishment. Animals, birds, and flowers rendered in delicate detail provide a soothing contrast to this tense moment of drama.

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

Double page: Rustam Kicks Aside the Rock Thrown by Bahman
A. Verso: text, with title “Bahman arrives at the hunting ground of Rustam and Zal” and a second title, now illegible
Folio: 37.1 × 24.1 cm (14 5/8 × 9 1/2 in.)
2002.50.164
B. Recto: text and illustration
Folio: 37 × 24.1 cm (14 9/16 × 9 1/2 in.)
2002.50.163

King Gushtasp sent his son Isfandiyar to bring the mighty hero Rustam to court in chains, promising Isfandiyar the throne if he could accomplish this feat. Searching for Rustam, Isfandiyar’s son Bahman came upon the hero roasting an onager in his hunting grounds and decided to kill him immediately, sparing his father a dangerous confrontation. From the top of a mountain he pried loose a large boulder and sent it rolling downhill toward Rustam, whose brother Zavara heard the noise and cried out in warning. Rather than move, however, the hero calmly waited until the stone was nearly upon him and then kicked it away. Impressed by Rustam’s power, Bahman approached him and told him of Isfandiyar’s mission.

In the painting, Rustam is shown at the crucial moment of danger, yet, as the text describes, he remains seated, roasting his supper on a spit and merely stretching out his leg to kick away the large rock. Next to him his horse, Rakhsh, grazes undisturbed. Rustam’s hunting party rounds the horizon at the upper right, unaware of the incident, but two figures at the lower left witness and point at the scene. From behind the rocky ridge on the left, Bahman looks on, his finger to his mouth in astonishment. Animals, birds, and flowers rendered in delicate detail provide a soothing contrast to this tense moment of drama.

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), pp. 232-233, cat. 88 A-B, ill.

Exhibition History

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

32Q: 2550 Islamic, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/07/2018 - 04/17/2019

Related Works

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