Rustam Slays the White Elephant, from the Shahnama of Firdausi

Accession Number

Rustam Slays the White Elephant, from the Shahnama of Firdausi


Artist Nationality

Object Creation Date
circa 1460

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

10 1/2 in. x 6 15/16 in. ( 26.7 cm x 17.7 cm )

Subject matter
Rustam Slays the White Elephant

Shouts rose outside his door: "The chief's white elephant
Hath broken loose, and folk are in its danger!"
He heard, and urged by hardihood ran forth, 
Snatched up Sam's mace and made toward the street. 
The keepers of the gate opposed him, saying: 
"We fear the chieftain, 'tis a darksome night, 
The elephant is loose! Who can approve
Thy going forth?"

Wroth at the speaker's words 
The matchless Rustam smote him on the nape:
His head rolled from him. Rustam turned toward...

...The mighty beast and roared out like the sea. 
He looked and saw a Mountain bellowing,....

...And went courageously against the beast, 
Which seeing him charged at him like a mountain 
And reared its trunk to strike, but Rustam dealt it 
A mace-blow on the head...

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 Rustam Slays the White Elephant from the Shahnama of Firdausi, 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
Arabic alphabet
Iranian Islamic painting styles after the Mongols
Iranian Islamic styles after the Mongols
Persian-Farsi (language)
Timurid painting styles
gold leaf
gouache (paint)
maces (weapons)
miniatures (paintings)

11 Related Resources

Arts from Persia and Iran
(Part of: Ancient and Classical Civilizations)
Before 1492
(Part of 3 Learning Collections)
Death and Dying
(Part of 8 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 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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