© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
2002.50.45
Title
Khusraw Parviz Murdered in his Sleep (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
Classification
Manuscripts
Work Type
manuscript folio
Date
c. 1480
Places
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Shiraz
Period
Aq Qoyunlu period
Culture
Persian
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/165395
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Ink and opaque watercolor on paper
Dimensions
34.1 x 22.3 cm (13 7/16 x 8 3/4 in.)
Provenance
Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood, Belmont, MA (by 1992-2002), 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
2002.50.45
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Description
Courtiers who supported prince Shiruy’s bid for the throne pressured him to slay his father, the captive Khusraw Parviz. Shiruy, although distressed by the idea, was too weak to stand up to his nobles; they hired an assassin, whom Firdawsi describes as a hideous man named Mihr Hurmuzd. When Mihr Hurmuzd entered the palace where Khusraw Parviz was imprisoned, the king was appalled by the repellent creature who would bring about his death. He ordered his servant to bring fresh clothes and water and, after washing and praying, put on the clothes and covered his face with a cloak to avoid seeing his ugly murderer. Immediately Mihr Hurmuzd, dagger in hand, locked the chamber doors and stabbed the king in the chest.

The painting captures the dramatic climax of the story, showing Khusraw on his bed and, atop him, Mihr Hurmuzd in the act of stabbing. Khusraw wears a crown; his face, contrary to what the text says, is not covered. The appearance of the assassin likewise diverges from the textual description: he wears ordinary fifteenth-century court dress, and only his exposed legs indicate his lowly status. The royal chamber in which the scene takes place is decorated with wall paintings, tilework, a carpet, and various types of geometric ornament.

Published Catalogue Text: In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art , written 2013
69

Khusraw Parviz Murdered on the Order of Shiruy
Recto: text and illustration, with title
“The killing of Khusraw Parviz by the hand of Shiruy”
Verso: text
Aq Qoyunlu period, c. 1480
Folio: 34.1 × 22.3 cm (13 7/16 × 8 3/4 in.)
2002.50.45

Courtiers who supported prince Shiruy’s bid for the throne pressured him to slay his father, the captive Khusraw Parviz. Shiruy, although distressed by the idea, was too weak to stand up to his nobles; they hired an assassin, whom Firdawsi describes as a hideous man named Mihr Hurmuzd. When Mihr Hurmuzd entered the palace where Khusraw Parviz was imprisoned, the king was appalled by the repellent creature who would bring about his death. He ordered his servant to bring fresh clothes and water and, after washing and praying, put on the clothes and covered his face with a cloak to avoid seeing his ugly murderer. Immediately Mihr Hurmuzd, dagger in hand, locked the chamber doors and stabbed the king in the chest.

The painting captures the dramatic climax of the story, showing Khusraw on his bed and, atop him, Mihr Hurmuzd in the act of stabbing. Khusraw wears a crown; his face, contrary to what the text says, is not covered. The appearance of the assassin likewise diverges from the textual description: he wears ordinary fifteenth-century court dress, and only his exposed legs indicate his lowly status. The royal chamber in which the scene takes place is decorated with wall paintings, tilework, a carpet, and various types of geometric ornament.

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. 220-221, cat. 69, ill.

Exhibition History

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

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