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25 Items in this Learning Collection
Collection Object
Collection Object

Copyright
All Rights Reserved ()

Buzurjmihr Interprets a Dream for Nushirwan, from the Shahnama of Firdausi

Accession Number
1963/1.71

Title
Buzurjmihr Interprets a Dream for Nushirwan, 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
Nushirwan was the son of Mazdak, a heretic (in this context, someone who was not a follower of Zoroastrianism) who had won many converts. Nushirwan persuaded the shah that Mazdak was a fraud, and was himself put in charge of punishing his father and his followers, for which he earned the epithet “the Just.” Later, when he had become shah, Nushirwan had a disturbing dream that someone in the palace would betray him. He summoned his wise minister Buzurjmihr to interpret the dream.
The world-lord called and told the dream to him.
He [Buzurjmihr] heard, grew full of matter, and replied:
“There is a youth disguised in women’s garb
Within thy bower. Now put all strangers forth,
That none may know our purpose, and command
Thy ladies all to pass before thy presence
With measured tread . . .”
They came, those Idols of his bower, in all
Their perfumes, tints, and beauty.
They passed the second time and, when all thought
The dream an empty one, a youth appeared
Of cypress-stature and of kingly looks,
But quaking like a willow and despairing
Of his dear life.
Warner, VII, 284–85
This painting is no doubt by the same artist who did “Ardshir Sits Upon the Throne in Baghdad” (1963/1.67). It adheres to the same formula for an audience scene, with the enthroned shah in the center, flanked by attendants on each side. We recognize again this painter’s skill in creating individual personalities, especially in the figures of the slender and youthful shah and his stout, graying minister. The women, however, all have stereotypical “moon faces,” so that it is impossible to tell which is the male in disguise. The black-skinned figure behind the women is probably meant to represent a eunuch in the royal harem.
———
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
The world-lord called and told the dream to him.
He [Buzurjmihr] heard, grew full of matter, and replied:
“There is a youth disguised in women’s garb
Within thy bower. Now put all strangers forth,
That none may know our purpose, and command
Thy ladies all to pass before thy presence
With measured tread . . .”
They came, those Idols of his bower, in all
Their perfumes, tints, and beauty.
They passed the second time and, when all thought
The dream an empty one, a youth appeared
Of cypress-stature and of kingly looks,
But quaking like a willow and despairing
Of his dear life.

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, Buzurjmihr Interprets a Dream for Nushirwan, 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)

7 Related Resources

Arts from Persia and Iran
(Part of: Ancient and Classical Civilizations)
Before 1492
(Part of 3 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 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