Ilkhanid Illustrations in
Great Mongol (Demotte) Shāh-Nāmeh
Tabriz, Iran, c.1335


"DEMOTTE" ŠĀH-NĀMA, illustrated manuscript, now dispersed, of Ferdowsī's epic poem, often identified by the name of a former owner, the Paris dealer Georges Demotte (active ca. 1900-23). A more accurate designation is "the great Mongol Šāh-nāma," for it is generally believed to have been produced for a patron associated with the Il-khanid court and is particularly renowned for the intrinsic quality of its paintings. The large format of the manuscript and the incorporation of Chinese motifs into the paintings are characteristic of other Il-khanid examples, like Rašīd-al-Dīn's Jāmeʿ al-tawārīḵ. The paintings in the Šāh-nāma are exceptional, however, for their depiction of emotion, particularly grief, which is achieved through the figures' gestures and postures, often echoed and amplified by the expressive use of settings.
Source: Iranica Online

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Text links to the larger images:
Brian 1 f. 005r: 'The Iranians place the Arab king Zahhak on the throne'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid. Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, F1923.5.
Brian 2 f. 006r: 'Faridun questions his mother'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration.
Brian 3 f. 007r: 'Faridun defeats Zahhak', Great Mongol (Demotte) Shāh-Nāmeh, Tabriz, c.1335 - Ilkhanid Soldiers. Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar, MS 200.
Brian 4 f. 007v: 'Faridun brings Zahhak to Mount Damavand', Great Mongol (Demotte) Shāh-Nāmeh, Tabriz, c.1335 – Ilkhanid. The Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, Per 111.1.
Brian 5 f. 010r: 'Faridun tests his sons', Great Mongol (Demotte) Shāh-Nāmeh, Tabriz, c.1335 - Ilkhanid Soldiers. The Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, Per 111.2.
Brian 6 f. 011v: 'The murder of Iraj', Great Mongol (Demotte) Shāh-Nāmeh, Tabriz, c.1335 - Ilkhanid Soldiers. The Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, Per 111.2.
Brian 7 f. 012r: 'Faridun mourns by the Coffin of Iraj'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. Sackler Gallery, S1986.101.
Brian 8 f. 012v: 'The head of Iraj is brought to Faridun'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. Sackler Gallery, S1986.100.
Brian 9 f. 017v: 'Rudaba lets down her hair for Zal to climb up'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. Private collection, Lyons.
Brian 10 f. 019r: 'Sindukht learns of Zal and Rudaba'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. Sackler Gallery, S1986.102.
Brian 11 f. 022r: 'Zal goes as an envoy to Manuchihr', Great Mongol (Demotte) Shāh-Nāmeh, Tabriz, c.1335 - Ilkhanid Soldiers. The Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, Per 111.4.
Brian 12 f. 022v: 'The mobads question Zal', Great Mongol (Demotte) Shāh-Nāmeh, Tabriz, c.1335 - Ilkhanid Soldiers. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 31.436
Brian 13 f. 025r: 'Afrasiyab executes Nauzar'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 50-103.
Brian 14 f. 026r: 'Zav, son of Tahmasp, enthroned' from the Great Mongol (Demotte) Shah-Nameh. Sackler Gallery S1986.107.
Brian 15 f. 026v: 'Garshasp enthroned '. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Geneva, 971-0107-0001.
Brian 16 f. 032v: 'Kay Kavus's champions fight the King of Mazandaran' (destroyed). 1937, formerly Kelekian Collection, New York.
Brian 17 f. 143r: 'Isfandiyar demands the kingdom from his father Gushtasp', Great Mongol (Demotte) Shāh-Nāmeh, Tabriz, c.1335 – Ilkhanid. Berenson Collection, Villa I Tatti, Florence. Ms. II. 1
Brian 18 f. 144r: 'Zal greets Bahman'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. Collection des Musées d’Art et d’Histoire, Geneva 1971-107/2a.
Brian 20 f. 149r: 'The first combat of Rustam and Isfandiyar'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art 33-60.
Brian 19 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.
Brian 21 f. 152r: 'Rustam shoots Isfandiyar in the eyes with a double-pointed arrow'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid. Harvard Art Museums 1958.288.
Brian 22 f. 153r: The Funeral of Isfandiyar' [Isfandiyar mourned]. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 33.70.
Brian 23 f. 155r: 'Rustam kills Shaghad before dying'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. British Museum, 1948,1211.0.25.
Brian 24 f. 155v: 'Faramarz mourns Rustam and Zavara'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 22.393.
Brian 25 f. 156r: 'Faramarz leads his army against the Shah of Kabul'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. Louvre OA 7095.
Brian 26 f. 158v: 'Rashnavad finds Darab asleep by a ruined castle'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid. Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, F1938.78.
Brian 27 f. 159r: 'Darab and Rashnavad fight the Rumis'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. Harvard Art Museums 1919.130.
Brian 28 f. 164r: 'Iskandar enthroned'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. Louvre, Paris. OA 7096.
Brian 29 f. 165r: 'Kayd, the King of Hind, tells his dreams to his vizier, Mihran'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. Louvre, Paris. OA 7095.
Brian 30 f. 167v: 'Battle between the armies of Iskandar and the Fur of Hind'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid. Harvard Art Museums 1955.167.
Brian 31 f. 168r: 'Iskandar kills the Fur of Hind'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. Keir Collection.
Brian 32 f. 171r: 'Iskandar in the land of the Brahmins', Great Mongol (Demotte) Shāh-Nāmeh, Tabriz, c.1335 - Ilkhanid Soldiers. Sackler Gallery, S1986.105.
Brian 33 f. 172r: 'Iskandar kills the Abyssinian monster'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 30.105.
Brian 34 f. 172v: 'Iskandar kills a dragon'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. Keir Collection.
Brian 35 f. 174r: 'Iskandar and the talking birds' / 'Iskandar encounters Israfil'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. Louvre OA 7094.
Brian 36 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.
Brian 37 f. 175v: 'Iskandar builds a wall against Gog and Magog', Great Mongol (Demotte) Shāh-Nāmeh, Tabriz, c.1335 - Ilkhanid Soldiers. Sackler Gallery, S1986.104.
Brian 38 f. 175v: 'Iskandar and the talking tree'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, F1935.23.
Brian 39 f. 178r: 'Iskandar mourned'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. Free Gallery, F1938.3.
Brian 40 f. 180r: 'Ardashir meets Gulnar'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. Collection des Musées d’Art et d’Histoire, Geneva, 1971-0107-0003.
Brian 41 f. 181r: 'Ardashir Battles Bahman, Son of Ardavan', from the Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Detroit Institute of Arts 35-54
Brian 42 f. 181v: 'Ardavan led captive before Ardashir'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. Sackler Gallery S1986.103.
Brian 43 f. 184r: 'Ardavan's daughter tries to poison her husband Ardashir'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. Sackler Gallery, S1986.106.
Brian 44 f. 184v: 'Ardashir's minister stands before him', Great Mongol (Demotte) Shāh-Nāmeh, Tabriz, c.1335 - Ilkhanid Soldiers. Keir Collection, X01.
Brian 45 f. 190v: 'Narsi enthroned'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. The Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, Per 111.6.
Brian 46 f. 195v: 'Shapur executes Mani'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. Reza Abbasi Collection, Tehran.
Brian 47 f. 197v: 'Bahram Gur's mount tramples Azada'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. Harvard Art Museums 1957.193.
Brian 48 f. 204v: 'Bahram Gur finds Jamshid's treasures', Great Mongol (Demotte) Shāh-Nāmeh, Tabriz, c.1335 - Ilkhanid Illustration. Freer Gallery of Art F1935.24.
Brian 49 f. 209v: 'Bahram Gur kills the dragon that had killed a youth', Great Mongol (Demotte) Shāh-Nāmeh, Tabriz, c.1335 – Ilkhanid. Cleveland Museum of Art, 1943.658.
Brian 50 f. 210r: 'Bahram Gur helps the landlord's cow to produce milk again'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. McGill University Library, Montreal. Persian 6.
Brian 51 f. 208v: 'Bahram Gur hunts onagers', Great Mongol (Demotte) Shāh-Nāmeh, Tabriz, c.1335 - Ilkhanid Soldiers. Worcester Art Museum, 1935.24.
Brian 52 f. 212r: 'Bahram Gur appoints Narsi Viceroy of Khurasan', Great Mongol (Demotte) Shāh-Nāmeh, Tabriz, c.1335 - Ilkhanid Soldiers. Khalili Collection, MSS 994.
Brian 53 f. 214v: 'Bahram Gur kills a wolf in India'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. Harvard Art Museums 1958.288.
Brian 54 f. 229v: 'Anushirvan's fourth majlis for Buzurjmihr'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. Cleveland Museum of Art 1959.330.
Brian 55 f. 230v: 'Anushirvan's seventh majlis for Buzurjmihr. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia, c.1335. Ilkhanid Illustration. Freer Gallery of Art F1942.2.
Brian 56 f. 231v: 'Nushirvan Eating Food Brought by the Sons of Mahbud'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 52.20.2.
Brian 57 f. 233v: 'Anushirvan dictates an answer to the Khaqan's letter'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid. The Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, Per 111.7.
Brian 58 f. 234v: 'Mihran Sitad asks the Khaqan to give his daughter to Anushirvan as a wife'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 22.392.

Illustration numbers are by: Brian, Doris. "A Reconstitution of the Miniature Cycle in the Demotte Shah Namah." in Ars Islamica 6, 1939, pp. 97-112.




36-61     Pages from the Great Mongol Shahnama (Book of Kings)
lran (probably Tabriz), 1330s
Ink, colors, and gold on paper

One of the most elaborate and luxurious manuscripts of the llkhanid period, and of Persian painting in general, is a now-dispersed fourteenth-century copy of the Book of Kings: the so-called Great Mongol Shahnama, more familiarly the Demotte Shahnama after the dealer responsible for its dismemberment. It exists today in the form of 57 known illustrations and some text pages scattered among several public and private collections.1 Extensive study of the manuscript initiated by Oleg Grabar and Sheila Blair and pursued by the latter has revealed that the original was probably a two-volume production of about 280 large folios with approximately 190 illustrations.2 The paper, now sometimes stained, is well polished and of good quality. In a nineteenth-century restoration every folio was given an extended border using paper produced in an unidentified Russian paper mill in 1839.3 The manuscript was taken apart by a dealer in Paris, Georges Demotte, between 1910 and 1915, and some folios with illustrations on both sides were split and the resulting two leaves sold individually. New text pages were commissioned to paste on the backs of the split leaves that were undamaged, and where they were damaged the salvaged image was pasted onto a newly commissioned folio. As a result, some paintings on the extant pages are unrelated to the accompanying text, and others have text that is incomplete.
    The frontispiece and colophon that might have revealed information on the patron, the calligrapher, and the date and place of production are lost, and it is therefore not known where and when the manuscript was produced. Grabar and Blair have attributed it to the patronage of the vizier Ghiyath al-Din ibn Rashid al-Din in Tabriz between November 1335, when he organized the appointment of Arpa (r. 1335-36) as successor of Abu Saʿid, and Ghiyath al-Din’s death on May 3, 1336.4 A dating in the 1330s is widely accepted by most scholars.

1. A fifty-eighth illustration was destroyed in 1937 and is known only from a photograph. See Grabar and Blair 1980, pp. 88-89, no. 16.
2. Grabar and Blair 1980; Blair 1989; Blair and Bloom 2001.
3. Blair and Bloom 2001, p. 42.
4. Grabar and Blair 1980, pp. xi-xiii. Soudavar 1996, pp. 95-97, however, attributes the production of the manuscript to Abu Saʿid’s reign (1316-35).
Source: p.253, The Legacy of Genghis Khan Courtly Art and Culture in Western Asia 1256-1353

Lyons, Private collection
Title of Work: Shahnama (Great Mongol)
Manuscript: Brian 9
Chapter 7 - Manuchihr (120 years)
Scene: Rudaba lets down her hair for Zal to climb up
English Title: Zal climbing to Rudaba
Dimensions (h x w): 300 x 200 mm
Format: Irregular, random into the margins
Reconstructed Folio: 017v
Gregorian Date: 1335 (circa)
School: Tabriz
Source: Shahnama Project

Image source
Destroyed
Title of Work: Shahnama (Great Mongol)
Manuscript: Brian 16
Chapter 12 - Kay Kavus (150 years)
Scene: Kay Kavus's champions fight the King of Mazandaran
English Title: Kay Ka'us and His Paladins Killing the Demons of Mazandaran
Reconstructed Folio: 032v
Gregorian Date: 1335 (circa)
School: Tabriz
Source: Shahnama Project



Illustrations from a 14th Century Shahnama (possibly the 'Great Mongol'), copied in Tabriz, Iran, in Codex Hazine 2153, an album of illustrations and calligraphy, Topkapi Sarai Museum.
Persian Cavalrymen c.1335 in Armies of the Middle Ages, Volume 2 by Ian Heath, based on the Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama
Other Illustrations of Ilkhanid Mongols and Successors in 14th Century Persia and surrounds

Persian Illustrations of Costume and Soldiers
Index of Illustrations of Costume and Soldiers