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Bahram Gur Slays a Dragon, from the Shahnama of Firdausi

Accession Number
1963/1.70

Title
Bahram Gur Slays a Dragon, 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
In our third and last view of Shah Bahram Gur (see also 1963/1.68, 1963/1.69) , he finally fulfills his royal potential by dispatching a fierce dragon. Here he is shown calmly astride his galloping charger, having just released his bow.
Hasting to the stream he saw
The dragon mid the gloom, its form, its writhing,
And furiousness, fire flashing from its eyes.
He strung his bow, he chose
Shafts dipped in bane of milk, and ’gan to shower them
Down on the dragon, wheeling all the while,
Like horsemen in the fray, to left and right.
The dragon’s body failed
By reason of those shafts, and all the ground
Ran with its gore and bane.
Warner, VII, 125
Notice that Bahram Gur appears quite different in these last three scenes: sometimes he wears a crown, sometimes a turban; sometimes he is bearded, while at others he has only a mustache. Assuming that there was a single “editor” for the manuscript—a scholar, perhaps, who worked with the patron to determine what scenes would be illustrated—how can we account for these discrepancies? The most logical answer is that several painters were working on the manuscript at the same time, without conferring among themselves. This pattern of production, in fact, typified Persian painting workshops of the fourteenth through eighteenth centuries.
———
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
Hasting to the stream he saw
The dragon mid the gloom, its form, its writhing,
And furiousness, fire flashing from its eyes.
He strung his bow, he chose
Shafts dipped in bane of milk, and ’gan to shower them
Down on the dragon, wheeling all the while,
Like horsemen in the fray, to left and right.
The dragon’s body failed
By reason of those shafts, and all the ground
Ran with its gore and bane.

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, Bahram Gur Slays a Dragon, 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)
dragon
gold leaf
gouaches (paintings)
miniatures (paintings)
shahs
watercolor painting (technique)

12 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)
Introduction to Manuscripts and Early Print
(Part of 2 Learning Collections)
Visual Adaptations of Literature
(Part of 2 Learning Collections)
Adventure
(Part of 3 Learning Collections)
Shahnama, the Persian Book of Kings
(Part of: Shahnama, The Persian Book of Kings     )
The Historic Age
(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