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Ilkhanid Illustration
Faranak, Faridun and the cowherd
Folio from the 'Second Small Shahnama' (Book of Kings) c.1300AD
Chapter 5 - Zahhak (1000 years)


A larger image of 'Faranak, Faridun and the cowherd', from the 'Second Small Shahnama' (Book of Kings) c.1300 AD - Ilkhanid Illustration. British Museum, 1948,1211,0.20.


Object type: painting, manuscript (detached folio)
Museum number: 1948,1211,0.20
Description: Faranak, Faridun and the cowherd; painting, detached page from an illustrated manuscript of Firdawsi's Shahnama, known as the 'Second Small Shahnama'. Faranak, mother of Faridun, brings him on her shoulder to the cowherd, who sits attending his herd of four cows, two sheep and a goat, for safekeeping. Six columns of text above image. Title crosses the third and fourth columns.
Ink and opaque watercolour on paper.
School/style: Persian
Culture/period: Ilkhanid dynasty
Date: 1300-1325 (circa)
Production place: Made in: Iran
Materials: paper
Technique: painted, gilded
Dimensions: Height: 16.2 centimetres (sheet) Width: 13.2 centimetres (sheet) Width: 13 centimetres (image) Height: 6 centimetres (image)

Curator's comments:
The child Faridun is depicted here on the shoulder of his mother at the left. He was entrusted to the care of the cowherd who owned Pirmaya, a marvellous cow who became Faridun's foster mother. This painting comes from the same manuscript as 'Shah Shapur besieges Ta'ir the Arab' (Princes, Poets & Paladins, cat. no.2)

The evil king, Zahhak, dreamed that he would be overthrown by Faridun and sought the boy in order to destroy him. Faridun's mother entrusted him to the care of cowherd who owned a magical cow.
Source: British Museum, London



London, The British Museum
Title of Work: Shahnama (Second Small)
Manuscript: 1948-12-11-020 - 022
Accession Number: 1948-12-11-020
Chapter 5 - Zahhak (1000 years)
Scene: The early years of Faridun
English Title: The birth of Faridun
Dimensions (h x w): 51 x 124 mm
Format: Rectangular within borders
Gregorian Date: 1300 (circa)
School: Baghdad
According to Shreve Simpson's study, this is the first surviving image from the second Small Shahnama. It shows the moment when Faranak, the mother of Faridun, consigns her son to Barmaya the cow, to be brought up in safety by her.
Source: Shahnama Project

Another folio from this Shahnama: Rustam catches Rakhsh
Back to the 'Second Small Shahnama' (Book of Kings), Ilkhanid Persia, c.1300AD