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Zal Goes to Rudaba, from the Shahnama of Firdausi

Accession Number
1963/1.42

Title
Zal Goes to Rudaba, from the Shahnama of Firdausi

Artist(s)
Iranian

Artist Nationality
Iranian

Object Creation Date
circa 1460

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

Dimensions
10 7/16 in. x 6 15/16 in. ( 26.5 cm x 17.7 cm )

Credit Line
Museum Purchase

Label copy
Zal is the famous albino warrior of the Shahnama. From his father Sam he inherited rule of Sistan, a province in northeastern Iran that was a vassal state to the Iranian shah. As a young man, he traveled to Kabul (the capital of modern Afghanistan), where he befriended the local ruler, Mihrab, and fell in love with his daughter, Rudaba. Firdausi’s verses describing their love sizzle with passion. Zal gained access to Rudaba’s lofty tower by climbing up a rope, and then he and she went hand in hand …
… to her pavilion
Gold-arabesqued—a meeting-place for kings,
A Paradise adorned—a blaze of light.
Slave-girls attended on the Houri* there,
While Zal in rapt astonishment beheld
Her face, her hair, her loveliness and grace …
Zal sat in royal grace by that fair Moon,
His dagger in his belt and on his head
A ruby coronet. Rudaba looked
And looked with stolen glances at him still. …
The more she gazed the more her heart inflamed:
They kissed and clung intoxicate with love.
Warner, I, 272
In this scene, the painter shows Zal and Rudaba seated on a high-backed platform, in a room decorated with brilliant blue tiles and a pink geometric-patterned carpet. Maidservants and a female musician playing a lyre are in attendance, but the lovers are totally absorbed in each other.
* Houri: divinely beautiful maiden
———
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
Zal Goes to Rudaba

...to her pavilion
Gold-arabesqued--a meeting-place for kings, 
A Paradise adorned--a blaze of light.
Slave-girls attended on the Houri there, 
While Zal in rapt astonishment beheld
Her face, her hair, her loveliness and grace....
Zal sat in royal grace by that fair Moon, 
His dagger in his belt and on his head
A ruby coronet. Rudaba looked
And looked with stolen glances at him still....

The more she gazed the more her heart inflamed:
They kissed and clung intoxicate with love.


 

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 shown here is Zal Goes to Rudaba from the Shahnama, 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
gold leaf
gouache (paint)
interiors
miniatures (paintings)
shahs
watercolor painting (technique)

7 Related Resources

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)
Shahnama, the Persian Book of Kings
(Part of: Shahnama, The Persian Book of Kings     )
Visual Cultures of Islam- Manuscripts 
(Part of: Visual Cultures of Islam )
Youth and Sexuality in the Middle East
(Part of: 2019 Summer Study Sets)

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved

On display