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Ilkhanid Illustration
Bahrām Gūr in a peasant's house.
[Bahram Gur helps the landlord's cow to produce milk again]

from the 1341 Inju Shahnama, Shiraz

fol. W.677Aa: Bahrām Gūr in a peasantís house

Shelf mark: W.677
Manuscript: Four leaves from a Shahnama
Text: title Shāhnāmah
Vernacular: شاهنامه
Author: Authority name: Firdawsī
Supplied name: Abū al-Qāsim Ḥasan ibn Isḥāq Firdawsī Ṭūsī
Name, in vernacular: ابو القاسم حسن بن اسحاق فردوسى طوسى
Note: Author dates preferred by cataloger: d. 411 or 416 AH / 1020-5 CE

These four leaves come from a dispersed illustrated and illuminated manuscript of Firdawsī's Shāhnāmah (Book of kings), commissioned by Qawām al-Dawlah wa-al-Dīn Ḥasan, vizier to the Inju governor in Fars province. It was copied by Ḥasan ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī al-Ḥusaynī in 741 AH / 1341 CE. The text is written in black nastaʿlīq script with chapter headings in red, blue, and black taʿlīq script. The dispersal of the manuscript occurred in the early fourteenth century AH / twentieth CE, and over one-half of its leaves are extant and housed in public and private collections. The illuminated folio with the year of the manuscript's completion and a dedication to the patron is housed in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (S1986.110 and S1986.111), and the folio with the colophon and finispiece is housed in the Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Collection (IR.M. 6/I). The manuscript's illustrations have been associated with production in Shiraz. The Walters paintings are as follows: Zāl joins Miḥrāb in battling the Turanians, Battle of the Iranians and the Turanians, Execution of Afrāsiyāb, and Bahrām Gūr in a peasantís house.

Date: Ramaḍān 741 AH / 1341 CE
Origin: Iran
Scribe: Supplied name: Ḥasan ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī al-Ḥusaynī
Name, in vernacular: حسن بن محمد بن على الحسينى
Note: Name does not appear on any of the leaves; see bibliography, Simpson
Form: Leaf
Genre: Historical, Literary -- Poetry
Language: The primary language in this manuscript is Persian.
Dimensions: 30.5 cm wide by 36.5 cm high
Written surface: 24.0 cm wide by 28.5 cm high
Layout: Columns: 6, Ruled lines: 30
Contents: fols. W.677Aa - W.677Db:
Title: Shāhnāmah
Author: Firdawsī
Scribe: Ḥasan ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī al-Ḥusaynī
Hand note: Main text written in black nastaʿlīq script; chapter headings written in red, blue, and black taʿlīq script
Provenance: Name: Dikran Kelekian
Acquisition: Walters Art Museum, 1931, by Henry Walters bequest
Source: The Walters W.677

13                           fig. 264
Bahram Gur in the Peasantís House
The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore (W. 677a)

Bahram Gur is one of the most celebrated rulers of the Sasanian dynasty in the Shahnama. The episode illustrated here concerns his stay in the house of a peasant while recovering from the poison of a dragon he had just slain. After the peasantís wife, unaware of the guestís identity, criticized the shahís righteousness, Bahram Gur decided to play the role of tyrant. When the peasantís wife tried to milk her cow to provide fresh milk for the guest, she realized that the animal was dry, a sure sign that the shah had become a tyrant. The episode ends with Bahram Gur repenting his anger and restoring the cowís flow of milk, thereby demonstrating his humanity and ultimate rectitude. The scene here is dominated by the true protagonist of the story, the peasantís wife, in the act of milking the cow.1 Her husband and their two daughters are passive onlookers, while the shah is hardly in disguise, since he wears a crown. The wife is shown in profile with her back to the visitor, perhaps highlighting the fact that she is unaware of his royal status.

1. Gray 1961, illus. p. 58.
Source: The Legacy of Genghis Khan Courtly Art and Culture in Western Asia 1256-1353

Baltimore, The Walters Art Museum
Title of Work: Shahnama (1341)
Manuscript: Ms. W. 677a-d
Accession Number: Ms. W .677a
Chapter 35 - Bahram Gur (1) (63 years)
Scene: Bahram Gur helps the landlord's cow to produce milk again
Dimensions (h x w): 94 x 238 mm
Format: Rectangular within borders
Reconstructed Folio: 237r
Hijri Date: 741
Gregorian Date: 1341 (circa)
School: Shiraz
Source: Shahnama Project

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