Gaiumart the First Shah, from the Shahnama of Firdausi

Accession Number

Gaiumart the First Shah, from the Shahnama of Firdausi


Artist Nationality

Object Creation Date
circa 1460

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

10 7/16 in. x 7 1/16 in. ( 26.5 cm x 18 cm )

Subject matter
Gaiumart The First Shah

He who compiled the ancient legendary,
And tales of paladins, saith Gaiumart
Invented crown and thrown, and was a Shah.
This order, Grace, and lustre came to earth
When Sol was dominant in Aries
And shone so brightly that the world grew younh. 
Its lord was Gaiumart, who dwelt at first 
Upon a mountain; thence his throne and fortune Rose.
He and all his troop wore leopard-skins, 
And under him the arts of life began,
For food and dress were in their infancy.
He reigned o'er all the earth for thirty years, 
In goodness like a sun upon the throne, 
And as a full moon o'er a lofty cypress
So shone he from the seat of king of kings. 

These verses contain metaphors that re-occur throughout the Shahnama as emblems of heroes or righteous kings—such as a tall cypress tree and the light of both the sun and the moon—and the artist has given them due emphasis in his pictorial translation. The cypress towers over the figure of the shah like a canopy, while the moon emerges from a cloud, and the sun is suggested by the golden sky. Gaiumart’s mountain origins are evoked by a stylized mass of pale blue rocks, which serve as a kind of natural throne. At some point in the manuscript’s history, sadly, the figure of Gaiumart was deliberately effaced.

Physical Description
This painted miniature Shahnama page was made by the Shiraz and Timurid schools, ca. 1460 in Baghdad, Iraq. The painting is done in ink, opaque watercolor and gold leaf on paper. The scene depicts Gaiumart the First Shah from the Shahnama, the Persian book of kings. 

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit 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)
gold leaf
gouache (paint)
miniatures (paintings)
watercolor painting (technique)

12 Related Resources

Arts from Persia and Iran
(Part of: Ancient and Classical Civilizations)
Before 1492
(Part of 3 Learning Collections)
Introduction to Manuscripts and Early Print
(Part of 2 Learning Collections)
Visual Adaptations of Literature
(Part of 2 Learning Collections)
Shahnama, the Persian Book of Kings
(Part of: Shahnama, The Persian Book of Kings     )
The Age of Creation    
(Part of: Shahnama, The Persian Book of Kings     )
Visual Cultures of Islam- Manuscripts 
(Part of: Visual Cultures of Islam )
Su19 Dine: HISTART 393 - Visit 3
(Part of: Resources Made by Isabel Engel)

& Author Notes

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