verso © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
2002.50.12
Title
Isfandiyar Captures Gurgsar in Combat (text, recto; painting, verso), illustrated folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
Classification
Manuscripts
Work Type
manuscript folio
Date
c. 1340
Places
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Shiraz
Period
Inju period, 1303-1357
Culture
Persian
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/149493
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Dimensions
37.1 x 29.3 cm (14 5/8 x 11 9/16 in.)
Provenance
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
2002.50.12
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Description
Recto. Text tells the story of Isfandiyar seeing his brother and his arrival in the mountains near Gushtasp. Subtitles in the text of this folio read, "Arrival of Isfandiyar to converse with this father;" Arjasp is informed of the release of Isfandiyar." Text corresponds with M. Ramazani (1963) vol. 3, pp. 249-51, lines 5946-6035. Ramazani subtitle reads, "Isfandiyar arrives in the mountains near Gushtasp." Text corresponds with J. Mohl (1976), vol. 4, pp. 470-76, lines 1321-1405. Mohl subtitle reads, "Isfendiar arrive dans la montagne, auprès de Guschtasp."

Verso. Subtitles in the text of this folio read, "Battle between Arjasp and Isfandiyar;" "Capture of Gurgsar by Isfandiyar." Gurgsar is the name of a champion of Turan. Text corresponds with M. Ramazani (1963) vol. 3, pp. 253-56, lines 6036-6113. Ramazani subtitle reads, "Battle between Isfandiyar and Arjasp and the escape of Arjasp." Text corresponds with J. Mohl (1976), vol. 4, pp. 476-82, lines 1406-1468.
Commentary
Prince Isfandiyar, son of Shah Gushtasp, led the Iranian army to victory against the Turanians commanded by Gurgsar. The fight between the two champions ended when Isfandiyar caught Gurgsar in a lariat and pulled him to the ground. In its figural style, treatment of ground line, and shallow space, this fourteenth-century painting recalls the decorative conventions of Seljuk ceramics. The figures are arrayed symmetrically in a frieze format, and loosely drawn foliage fills the background.

Published Catalogue Text: In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art , written 2013
63

Isfandiyar Captures Gurgsar in Combat
Folio from a manuscript of the Shāhnāma by Firdawsi
Recto: text
Verso: text and illustration, with titles “Battle between Arjasp and Isfandiyar” and “Capture of Gurgsar by Isfandiyar”
Iran, Shiraz, Inju period, 1341
Black ink, gold, and opaque watercolor on beige paper
Folio: 37.1 × 29.3 cm (14 5/8 × 11 9/16 in.)
2002.50.12

Published: McWilliams 2002a, 14, fig. 7.

As related in Firdawsi’s Shāhnāma, the mighty Isfandiyar, son of King Gushtasp, led the Iranian army to victory against the Turanians, commanded by Gurgsar. The fight between the two champions ended when Isfandiyar lassoed Gurgsar and pulled him to the ground. In its figural style, treatment of ground line, and restricted space, this fourteenth-century painting recalls the aesthetic conventions of Iranian mīnāʾī and luster ceramics (see, for instance, cats. 27 and 30). The figures are arrayed symmetrically in a frieze, and loosely drawn foliage fills the background. This folio was part of a now-dispersed illustrated Shāhnāma commissioned in 1341 by the vizier of the Inju governor in Fars.[1]

Mika M. Natif

[1] According to M. S. Simpson 2000, 241. Another folio from this manuscript, unlocated at the time of Simpson’s reconstruction, is currently in the Harvard Art Museums (2011.493).

Publication History

Mary McWilliams, "With Quite Different Eyes: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art", Apollo, ed. David Ekserdjian (November 2002), vol. CLVI no. 490, pp. 12-16, p. 14, fig. 7

Mary McWilliams, ed., In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2013), p. 215, cat. 63, ill.

Exhibition History

Closely Focused, Intensely Felt: Selections from the Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/07/2004 - 01/02/2005

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, 11/08/2017 - 04/19/2018

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