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Ilkhanid Illustration
Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama
Chapter 15 - Gushtasp (120 years). Rustam shoots Isfandiyar in the eyes with a double-pointed arrow.
Tabriz, Persia, c.1335AD


A larger image of Rustam shoots Isfandiyar in the eyes with a double-pointed arrow. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama.


Identification and Creation
Object Number: 1958.288
Title: Rustam Shoots Isfandiyar in the Eyes (painting, recto; text, verso), illustrated folio from a manuscript of the Great Ilkhanid Shahnama (Book of Kings)
Series/Book Title: Shahnama
Classification: Manuscripts
Work Type: manuscript folio
Date: c. 1330-1340
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Tabriz
Period: Ilkhanid period
Culture: Persian
Physical Descriptions
Medium: Ink, colors, and gold on paper
Dimensions: folio: 50 x 39.5 cm (19 11/16 x 15 9/16 in.)
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line: Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Edward W. Forbes
Accession Year: 1958
Source: Harvard Art Museums



41     Fig. 188
Rustam Shooting an Arrow into Isfandiyar's Eye
Image: 20 x 29 cm (7⅞ x 11⅜ in.)
Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, Mass., Gift of Edward W. Forbes (1958.288)

Rustam agreed to accompany Isfandiyar to the court of Shah Gushtasp, but the two quarreled and subsequently engaged in single combat to settle their dispute. Although severely wounded, Rustam managed to escape alive. On Zalís advice, he sought help from the simurgh, the miraculous bird that had reared his father. The simurgh healed Rustamís wounds and encouraged him to try conciliation as a means of settling the dispute. At the same time it gave him a double-pointed arrow that would kill the valiant lsfandiyar if shot into one of his eyes. After meeting his opponent and making a failed attempt at persuasion, Rustam resorted to use of the deadly arrow. The painting shows Rustam having discharged the arrow, while Isfandiyar, struck in the eye, falls forward on his horse.1

1.Grabar and Blair 1980, pp. 98-99, no. 21; Simpson 1980, pp. 30-31, no. 7.
Source: pp. 254-5, The Legacy of Genghis Khan Courtly Art and Culture in Western Asia 1256-1353



Cambridge, Harvard University Art Museums
Title of Work: Shahnama (Great Mongol)
Manuscript: 1919.130-1960.190
Accession Number: 1958.288
Chapter 15 - Gushtasp (120 years)
Scene: Rustam shoots Isfandiyar in the eyes with a double-pointed arrow
Dimensions (h x w): 200 x 290 mm
Format: Rectangular within borders
Reconstructed Folio: 152r
Gregorian Date: 1335 (circa)
School: Tabriz
Source: Shahnama Project

Previous: f. 149v: 'Zavara and Faramarz kill Isfandiyar's sons Nush-Azar and Mihr-i Nush'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid. Harvard Art Museums 1956.212.
Next: f. 153r: The Funeral of Isfandiyar' [Isfandiyar mourned]. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 33.70.
Back to the Great Mongol (Demotte) Shah-Nameh. Tabriz, Ilkhanid Persia.



Persian Cavalrymen c.1335 in Armies of the Middle Ages, Volume 2 by Ian Heath, based on the 'Great Mongol' (Demotte) Shahnama