verso © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
2002.50.142
Title
Double page: The Trial by Fire of Siyavush (painting, verso; text, recto), right-hand side of a double-page painting from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
Classification
Manuscripts
Work Type
manuscript folio
Date
1575-1590
Places
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Shiraz
Period
Safavid period
Culture
Persian
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/96961
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Dimensions
42.8 x 28.3 cm (16 7/8 x 11 1/8 in.)
Provenance
[Mansour Gallery, London, 1990 or 1992], sold; to Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood, Belmont, MA (1990 or 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
2002.50.142
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Description
This painting is part of a double-page composition that depicts the redemption of prince Siyavush, son of the Iranian king Kay Kavus. When Siyavush rebuffed the advances of his stepmother, Sudaba, she accused him of attempting to rape her. The king, after conducting an inconclusive investigation, asked both Sudaba and Siyavush to undergo a trial by fire. Sudaba refused; Siyavush agreed and emerged from the burning pyre unscathed and triumphant.
The painting on the left shows Siyavush galloping on his black horse through the engulfing flames. The king, also mounted, watches intently from the rocks above. On the right is the brightly tiled royal palace, from which Sudaba, finger to mouth, peers down in amazement.
Wide illuminated borders, here consisting of geometric compartments, surround the composition.

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

Double page: The Trial by Fire of Siyavush
A. Verso: text and illustration (of Sudaba watching from palace)
Folio: 42.8 × 28.3 cm (16 7/8 × 11 1/8 in.)
2002.50.142
B. Recto: text and illustration (of Siyavush riding through the fire)
Folio: 42.8 × 28.3 cm (16 7/8 × 11 1/8 in.)
2002.50.143

This double-page composition depicts the redemption of prince Siyavush, son of the Iranian king Kay Kavus. When Siyavush rebuffed the advances of his stepmother, Sudaba, she accused him of attempting to rape her. The king, after conducting an inconclusive investigation, asked both Sudaba and Siyavush to undergo a trial by fire. Sudaba refused; Siyavush agreed and emerged from the burning pyre unscathed and triumphant.

The painting on the left shows Siyavush galloping on his black horse through the engulfing flames. The king, also mounted, watches intently from the rocks above. On the right is the brightly tiled royal palace, from which Sudaba, finger to mouth, peers down in amazement.

Wide illuminated borders, here consisting of geometric compartments, surround the composition.

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), p. 238, cat. 96A, ill.

Exhibition History

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

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