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Kai Khusrau Slays Afrasiyab and Garsiwaz, from the Shahnama of Firdausi

Accession Number
1963/1.57

Title
Kai Khusrau Slays Afrasiyab and Garsiwaz, 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 in. ( 26.7 cm x 17.8 cm )

Credit Line
Museum Purchase

Label copy
After Shah Kai Khusrau defeated Shida (in the previous scene, 1963/1.57), the Iranian and Turanian armies clashed repeatedly in furious battles, until the invincible Iranians captured Afrasiyab’s capital city. Afrasiyab escaped across the sea and wandered in hiding for many years, but his pursuers discovered him at last in a remote mountain cave. To entice him out from his hiding place, Kai Khusrau brought as bait Afrasiyab’s brother Garsiwaz—the villain who had originally betrayed Khusrau’s father Siyawush. When Afrasiyab emerged from his cave, Khusrau took his final vengeance.
With Indian sword
He smote Afrasiyab upon the neck,
Then flung upon the dust the swarthy form,
Whose ears and hoary beard were red with blood,
While Garsiwaz his brother lost all hope. . . .
The cheeks of Garsiwaz were wan, his heart
Was full of trouble for Afrasiyab.
They dragged him from the jailors shamefully
In heavy bonds, on that his evil day,
Begirt with guards and executioners
As such a noted miscreant deserved.
When in sad plight he came before Khusrau,
With tears of blood upon his livid cheeks,
The Shah, the king of kings, . . .
… called an executioner who came
With trenchant sword unsheathed, and cruel heart,
And clave the chief asunder to the waist
While all the soldiers’ hearts were terror-stricken.
Warner, IV, 268–69
The artist has chosen to depict the moment when Kai Khusrau personally beheads Afrasiyab and blood spurts forth from the headless corpse. Garsiwaz is shown at left, in a long orange tunic, with his hands bound behind his back. To the right is Khusrau’s portable throne, a high-backed platform upholstered with luxurious Chinese brocades.
———
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
With Indian sword
He smote Afrasiyab upon the neck,
Then flung upon the dust the swarthy form,
Whose ears and hoary beard were red with blood,
While Garsiwaz his brother lost all hope. . . .
The cheeks of Garsiwaz were wan, his heart
Was full of trouble for Afrasiyab.
They dragged him from the jailors shamefully
In heavy bonds, on that his evil day,
Begirt with guards and executioners
As such a noted miscreant deserved.
When in sad plight he came before Khusrau,
With tears of blood upon his livid cheeks,
The Shah, the king of kings, . . .
… called an executioner who came
With trenchant sword unsheathed, and cruel heart,
And clave the chief asunder to the waist
While all the soldiers’ hearts were terror-stricken.

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 Slays Afrasiyab and Garsiwaz, 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
Birds
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
sword
watercolor painting (technique)

9 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

All Rights Reserved

On display