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Siyavush Displays His Prowess before Afrasiyab, from the Shahnama of Firdausi (The "Kervorkian Shahnama")

Accession Number
1963/1.49

Title
Siyavush Displays His Prowess before Afrasiyab, from the Shahnama of Firdausi (The "Kervorkian Shahnama")

Artist(s)
Iranian

Artist Nationality
Iranian

Object Creation Date
circa 1460

Medium & Support
ink, opaque watercolor, and gold leaf on paper

Dimensions
10 1/2 in. x 7 1/16 in. ( 26.7 cm x 18 cm )

Credit Line
Museum purchase

Label copy
Siyawush emerged from his trial by fire (seen in the previous image, 1963/1.48) physically unscathed, but acutely aware of his father Kai Kaus’s irrational behavior. When commanded to lead a war against Afrasiyab, the king of neighboring Turan, Siyawush refused and took refuge in Afrasiyab’s court. Here, Siyawush, wearing an orange tunic and mounted on a white horse, demonstrates his skill at polo, while the crowned and bearded Afrasiyab, seen just over the crest of the hill, looks on in wonderment. The Persian love for horses is clear from the way the artist has depicted these steeds in a spirited “flying gallop.”
One night the king spake thus to Siyawush:
“Tomorrow morning let us play at polo;
I hear that none among the warriors
Can face thy mall on thine own ground.
Let us be opposites,
Select our partners, and make up our sides.” …
Then Siyawush urged on his steed and smote
The ball, or ever it could reach the ground,
So stoutly that it disappeared from sight.
He mounted a fresh steed, threw up the ball,
And drove it out of sight to see the moon.
Thou wouldst have said: “The sky attracted it.”
There was not on the ground his peer, and none,
Had such a beaming face. The monarch laughed …
“Siyawush hath bettered all report.”
Warner, II, 263–65
———
Maribeth Graybill, Senior Curator of Asian Art
Exhibited in "A Medieval Masterpiece from Baghdad: the Ann Arbor Shahnama"
August 14 through December 19, 2004

Subject matter
Siyavush Displays His Prowess Before Afrasiyab

One night the king spake thus to Siyavush:--
"Tomorrow morning let us play at polo;
I hear that none among the warriors 
Can face thy mall on thine own ground.

Let us be opposites,
Select our partners, and make up our sides."

Then Siyavush urged on his steed and smote
The ball, or ever it could reach the ground, 
So stoutly that it disappeared from sight. 

He mounted a fresh steed, threw up the ball,
And drove it out of sight to see the moon.
Thou wouldst have said: "The sky attracted it."
There was not on the ground his peer, and none, 
Had such a beaming face. The monarch laughed...:--

"...Siyavush hath bettered all report."

Physical Description
This Persian miniature is attributed to the Shiraz and Timurid schools, ca. 1460. The painting is done in ink, opaque watercolor and gold leaf on paper. The scene, Siyavush Displays His Prowess before Afrasiyab, is part of the Shahnama of Firdausi, the Persian book of kings. 

Primary Object Classification
Painting

Collection Area
Western

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
Iranian Islamic painting styles after the Mongols
Iranian Islamic styles after the Mongols
Persian-Farsi (language)
Shahnama
Timurid
Timurid painting styles
calligraphy (visual works)
gold leaf
gouaches (paintings)
miniatures (paintings)
shahs
watercolor painting (technique)

11 Related Resources

Lesson Plan: Asian Epics
(Part of: Lesson Plans)
Arts from Persia and Iran
(Part of: Ancient and Classical Civilizations)
Before 1492
(Part of 3 Learning Collections)
Visual Adaptations of Literature
(Part of 2 Learning Collections)
Adventure
(Part of 2 Learning Collections)
Shahnama, the Persian Book of Kings
(Part of: Shahnama, The Persian Book of Kings     )
The Age of Heroes 
(Part of: Shahnama, The Persian Book of Kings     )
Visual Cultures of Islam- Manuscripts 
(Part of: Visual Cultures of Islam )

& Author Notes

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