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Ilkhanid Illustration
Great Mongol (Demotte) Shāh-Nāmeh
Chapter 20 - Iskandar (14 years)
Iskandar builds a wall against Gog and Magog

Tabriz, Persia, c.1335AD


A larger image of 'Iskandar builds a wall against Gog and Magog', Great Mongol (Demotte) Shāh-Nāmeh, Tabriz, c.1335 - Ilkhanid Soldiers. Sackler Gallery, S1986.104.


Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings) by Firdawsi (d.1020); Recto: Iskandar builds the iron Rampart ; Verso: text
HISTORICAL PERIOD: Il-Khanid dynasty, ca. 1330-1340
MEDIUM: Opaque watercolor, ink and gold on paper
DIMENSIONS: H x W: 59 x 39.7 cm (23 1/4 x 15 5/8 in)
GEOGRAPHY: Iran, Tabriz
CREDIT LINE: Purchase — Smithsonian Unrestricted Trust Funds, Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program, and Dr. Arthur M. Sackler
COLLECTION: Henri Vever collection
ACCESSION NUMBER: S1986.104
PROVENANCE
To 1913: Georges Demotte (1877-1923), Paris, France. [1]
From 1913 to 1942: Henri Vever (1854-1942), Paris and Noyers, France, purchased from Georges Demotte, Paris, France on December 12, 1913. [2]
From 1942 to 1986: Family member, Paris and Boulogne, France, by inheritance from Henri Vever, Paris and Noyers, France. [3]
From 1986: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, purchased from a family member, Paris and Boulogne, France. [4]
Notes:
[1] See Glen D. Lowry and Susan Nemazee, "Appendix 2: Ledger of Acquisitions, 1894 and 1907-17" in A Jeweler’s Eye: Islamic Arts of the Book from the Vever Collection (Washington, D.C.: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1988), p. 235. See also Susan Nemazee, "Appendix 7: Chart of Recent Provenance" in An Annotated and Illustrated Checklist of the Vever Collection, Glenn D. Lowry et al (Washington, D.C.: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1988), p. 402.
[2] See note 1.
[3] See the Agreement for the Purchase and Sale of the Henri Vever Collection of January 9, 1986, Collections Management Office.
[4] See note 3.
LABEL
This illustrated folio depicts one of Iskandar's (Alexander's) well-known adventures at the end of the civilized world, where he encounters the savages of the mythical lands of Gog and Magog. As a just and compassionate ruler, Iskandar gathers workers from all over the world and orders them to construct two walls made from iron, copper, and carbon to keep the evil creatures at bay. In the illustration from the Ilkhanid Shahnama, the artist has focused on the construction of the rampart while the inhabitants of Gog and Magog look on.

Affirming the vastness of Alexander the Great's empire, this work probably also served to illustrate the seemingly limitless domain of the Persian world under the Ilkhanid and subsequent rulers.
Source: Sackler Gallery



Fig.191 (cat. no. 52).
Iskandar Building the Iron Rampart, from a page of the Great Mongol Shahnama (Book of Kings), Iran (probably Tabriz), 1330s. Ink, colors, and gold on paper. Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; Purchase, Smithsonian Unrestricted Trust Funds, Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program, and Dr. Arthur M. Sackler (S1986.104)


52     Fig. 191
Iskandar Building the Iron Rampart
Image: 27 x 27 cm (10⅝ x 10⅝ in.) Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; Purchase, Smithsonian Unrestricted Trust Funds, Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program, and Dr. Arthur M. Sackler (S1986.104)

Iskandar subsequently came upon a mountain city plagued by the monstrous peoples of Yajuj and Majuj (Gog and Magog), creatures with black faces and tongues and boarlike teeth, who wreaked havoc and terrorized the citizens. He ordered a wall made of fused iron, copper, sulfur, charcoal, and naphtha to be built across the mountain from its base to its crest to protect the inhabitants.
    The painting shows blacksmiths and masons at work on the rampart.1 Their varied attire follows the description in the text, which speaks of craftsmen assembled from all over the world. In the background, the denizens of Yajuj and Majuj are seen peering from behind the rocks.

1. Grabar and Blair 1980, pp. 130-31, no. 37; Lowry 1988, pp. 86-87, no. 12.
Source: pp. 163 & 256, The Legacy of Genghis Khan Courtly Art and Culture in Western Asia 1256-1353



Washington DC, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Title of Work: Shahnama (Great Mongol)
Manuscript: S1986.100-107
Accession Number: S1986.104
Chapter 20 - Iskandar (14 years)
Scene: Iskandar builds a wall against Gog and Magog
Dimensions (h x w): 273 x 281 mm
Format: Rectangular within borders
Reconstructed Folio: 175v
Gregorian Date: 1335 (circa)
School: Tabriz
Source: Shahnama Project

Previous: f. 174v: 'Iskandar and his troops take stones from the Black Mountain and emerge from the land of darkness'. Great Mongol Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid. Keir Collection, PP.03.
Next: f. 175v: 'Iskandar and the talking tree'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, F1935.23.
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