Illustrations from the Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp c. 1522-1540

The figures wear contemporary dress or dress of no latter than the date of the illustration.
The historical scenes portray actions in the Sassanid/Sassanian period.

Rest the cursor over a thumb-nail to see the title. Click to see the larger image.

Although the story is of earlier periods, the figures wear early 16th century Persian costume.

Composed in the tenth century by the poet Firdowsi, the Shah-nameh or Book of Kings is Iran's central literary work, a historical epic peopled with monarchs—some of inspiring goodness, others of unmatched wickedness—handsome paladins, beautiful maidens, malevolent witches, and treacherous demons. This manuscript of the Shah-nameh is the most sumptuous one ever produced. Containing scores of paintings where other sixteenth-century Shah-nameh manuscripts contain a dozen, the Houghton Shah-nameh (identified by the name of a previous owner, Arthur A. Houghton, Jr.) is thought to have been commissioned about 1522 by Shah Isma'il, the founder of the Safavid dynasty, as a present for his son, Prince Tahmasp. Court artists and craftsmen continued their work on the 759 folios for the better part of two decades; as a consequence, the book offers a fascinating mixture of artistic styles.

Text Links to images:
Zahhak Slays Birmayeh
f36v: Faridun Strikes Down Zahhak
f37: The Death of Zahhak. Aga Khan Museum AKM00155
f42: Faridun Tests his Sons
f102v: Qaran Fights Barman
Siyawus the son of Shah Kay Kawus (Kavus), enthroned in his palace at Balkh. Museum of Contemporary Arts, Tehran.
Kay Khusraw Welcomed by his Grandfather, Kay Kaus (Kavus), King of Iran. David Collection, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Kay Khusraw Captures the Demon-occupied Bahman Castle. David Collection, Copenhagen, Denmark.
f236r: The Iranians Mourn the Death of Farud and Jarira. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1970.301.35.
f241r: The Besotted Iranian Camp is Attacked by Night. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1970.301.36
f341v: The First Joust of the Rooks (Rukhs) - Fariburz kills Gulbad
Gushtasp Kills a Dragon in Rum
Isfandiyar’s Fifth Ordeal; He Must Slay the Simurgh
The Story Of Haftvad And The Worm. Aga Khan Museum AKM 00164
f568r: Bahrain Qur Pins the Coupling Onagers. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1970.301.62
f707v: The war between the generals of Khusrau Parviz and Bahram Chubina. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 1970.301.72.

Illustrations from the Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp from the portion of the manuscript in the Museum of Contemporary Arts, Tehran.
Illustrations from the Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp from the portion of the manuscript in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.



See also Shahnama Page 1 . Shahnama Page 2 . The 1341 Injuid Shahnama
Persian Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers
Index of Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers




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