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Siyavush Passes Through the Fire, from the Shahnama of Firdausi

Accession Number
1963/1.48

Title
Siyavush Passes Through the Fire, 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 7 3/16 in. ( 26.5 cm x 18.2 cm )

Credit Line
Museum Purchase

Label copy
Like the previous scene (1963/1.47), this painting also deals with a tragic misunderstanding between father and son. The Shah Kai Kaus—a ruler often chastised by his own knights as a fool—had a son, Siyawush. One of the shah’s concubines attempted to seduce Siyawush and, when she failed, accused him of attacking her and causing a miscarriage of twins. Unable to determine who was telling the truth, Kai Kaus ordered Siyawush to undergo trial by fire.
… presently the tongues of fire rose fast;
The earth became more radiant than the sky,
The people shouted and the flames ascended.
All that were on the plain were scorched and wept
To see the cheery face of Siyawush,
Who came before his sire with golden helmet,
And raiment all of white.
“Be not discomfited,” said Siyawush,
“That fortune taketh such a turn as this.
I am dishonoured: such a state is ruin.
If I am innocent I shall escape. …”
From every side the flames closed o’er his head,
And none could see his helmet or his horse. …
The noble hero nathless reappeared,
With rosy cheeks and smiles upon his lips.
A roar went up as men caught sight of him:
They cried: “The young Shah cometh from the fire!”
Warner, II, 219–20
The stylized flames in this picture make it one of the most memorable in the manuscript. It is a pity that Siyawush’s face has been damaged.
———
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
… presently the tongues of fire rose fast;
The earth became more radiant than the sky,
The people shouted and the flames ascended.
All that were on the plain were scorched and wept
To see the cheery face of Siyawush,
Who came before his sire with golden helmet,
And raiment all of white.
“Be not discomfited,” said Siyawush,
“That fortune taketh such a turn as this.
I am dishonoured: such a state is ruin.
If I am innocent I shall escape. …”
From every side the flames closed o’er his head,
And none could see his helmet or his horse. …
The noble hero nathless reappeared,
With rosy cheeks and smiles upon his lips.
A roar went up as men caught sight of him:
They cried: “The young Shah cometh from the fire!”

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 Passes Through the Fire, 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)

15 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)
PAST: JUDAIC 318.003: Jews in the Middle East
(Part of: FFW Lower Level Study Cases     )
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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