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Kai Khusrau Crosses the Jihun, from the Shahnama of Firdausi

Accession Number
1963/1.50

Title
Kai Khusrau Crosses the Jihun, 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 1/2 in. x 7 1/16 in. ( 26.7 cm x 18 cm )

Credit Line
Museum Purchase

Label copy
Afrasiyab, King of the Turanians, so favored young Siyawush that he gave him his daughter Farangis in marriage. However, Afrasiyab’s brother Garsiwaz, jealous of the young Iranian prince, persuaded the king that Siyawush was plotting against him. Afrasiyab had Siyawush killed and then imprisoned Farangis. After many misadventures, Farangis and her son Kai Khusrau were rescued by Giv, one of the great Iranian knights. On their flight to Iran, they came to the River Jihun at the border, their last obstacle.
When Giv and Kai Khusrau had reached the stream
In haste to cross they wrangled with the toll-man. …
Giv said to him: “Demand whate’er thou wilt,
But let us cross because a host approacheth.”
The officer, on hearing this from Giv,
Became extortionate …
Giv answered him: “O thou of broken wits!
Thou wouldst have toll: then take it in the river!
The stream for us, the ferryboat for thee:
‘Twill not be easy to collect thy fee!”
Giv told the prince: "If thou art Kai Khusrau
The stream will favour thee. …
If I, or if thy mother should be drowned,
Grieve not. For thee I lived because the throne
Of king of kings was naught. …
Then Kai Khusrau replied: “So be it. Enough.” …
He spake, and radiant as the morning star
Bestrode his sable steed, took to the water,
Reached like a boat the toll-house opposite,
And issued from the bed of the Jihun
With his gallant Giv and Farangis behind him.
Warner, II, 391–92
The painting shows the three companions in mid-stream, with Khusrau in the lead, followed by his mother Farangis and his loyal champion, Giv. From the shoreline, the ferryman watches them, amazed that they do not drown in their heavy mail. The rocky bank of the river rises to snow-capped mountains in the distance, and Chinese-inspired clouds swirl in the blue sky above.
———
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
When Giv and Kai Khusrau had reached the stream
In haste to cross they wrangled with the toll-man. …
Giv said to him: “Demand whate’er thou wilt,
But let us cross because a host approacheth.”
The officer, on hearing this from Giv,
Became extortionate …
Giv answered him: “O thou of broken wits!
Thou wouldst have toll: then take it in the river!
The stream for us, the ferryboat for thee:
‘Twill not be easy to collect thy fee!”
Giv told the prince: "If thou art Kai Khusrau
The stream will favour thee. …
If I, or if thy mother should be drowned,
Grieve not. For thee I lived because the throne
Of king of kings was naught. …
Then Kai Khusrau replied: “So be it. Enough.” …
He spake, and radiant as the morning star
Bestrode his sable steed, took to the water,
Reached like a boat the toll-house opposite,
And issued from the bed of the Jihun
With his gallant Giv and Farangis behind him.

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, Kai Khusrau Crosses the Jihun, 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
Figures
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)
man
men on horseback
miniatures (paintings)
shahs
watercolor painting (technique)

11 Related Resources

Arts from Persia and Iran
(Part of: Ancient and Classical Civilizations)
Before 1492
(Part of 3 Learning Collections)
Transportation
(Part of 5 Learning Collections)
Visual Adaptations of Literature
(Part of 2 Learning Collections)
Adventure
(Part of 2 Learning Collections)
PAST: ENGLISH 124 sec 006: The Spirit of Adventure
(Part of: FFW Lower Level Study Cases     )
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 )
Travel
(Part of: Exchange and Influence on Global Trade Routes)

& Author Notes

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