Try Amazon Music Unlimited Free Trial


Ilkhanid Illustration
Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama
Chapter 15 - Gushtasp (120 years). The Funeral of Isfandiyar [Isfandiyar mourned].
Tabriz, Persia, c.1330-1340AD


A larger image of The Funeral of Isfandiyar. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama.


With his dying breath, Isfandiyar entrusted Rustam with the guidance of his son, after declaring that his death was caused not by Rustam but by fate and his father's ambitions. Rustam made arrangements to send Isfandiyar's body back to Iran. The text gives a detailed description of the fine iron coffin that Rustam ordered, smeared with pitch on the inside, draped with rich Chinese brocades, and sprinkled with musk and ambergris. He also shrouded the body in brocade and placed on it Isfandiyar's turquoise crown.
The details of the painting follow the text faithfully. Members of the procession, with distinctly Mongol features, are shown wailing and tearing their hair in grief. As a sign of mourning, Isfandiyar's horse has its mane and tail shorn, and the saddle, with Isfandiyar's mace, quiver, and helmet hanging from it, is reversed. This illustration of a royal Mongol funeral procession is rendered with smooth calligraphic lines that derive from Chinese painting, as do the clouds above, with the three geese that, in Buddhist belief, would bear the soul to heaven. This Persian painting is one of the first examples to convey a realistic sense of individual emotion.
Source: Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



"The Funeral of Isfandiyar", Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings)
Author: Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020)
Object Name: Folio from an illustrated manuscript
Date: 1330s
Geography: Attributed to Iran, Tabriz
Medium: Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Dimensions: Page: H. 22 13/16 in. (58 cm)
W. 15 3/4 in. (40 cm)
Mat: H. 24 in. (61 cm)
W. 19 1/2 in. (49.5 cm)
Classification: Codices
Credit Line: Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1933
Provenance: Demotte, Inc., New York, by 1926–33; sold to MMA
Accession Number: 33.70

From a dispersed copy of the Ilkhanid manuscript referred to as the Great Mongol Shahnama, this folio depicts the funeral procession of the Persian hero Isfandiyar. The bier is accompanied by a group of mourners, some wailing and pulling at their hair, which is worn loose as a sign of mourning. The painting technique, with its strong linear quality and thin washes of color, recalls contemporary Chinese brush painting.

Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York



New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Title of Work: Shahnama (Great Mongol)
Manuscript: 33.70, 52.20.2
Accession Number: 33.70
Chapter 15 - Gushtasp (120 years)
Scene: Isfandiyar mourned
English Title: The Bringing of Isfandiyar’s Bier
Dimensions (h x w): 220 x 289 mm
Format: Rectangular within borders
Reconstructed Folio: 153r (001r)
Gregorian Date: 1335 (circa)
School: Tabriz
Source: Shahnama Project

Previous: 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.
Next: f. 155r: 'Rustam kills Shaghad before dying'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia. Ilkhanid Illustration. British Museum, 1948,1211.0.25.
Back to the Great Mongol (Demotte) Shah-Nameh. Tabriz, Ilkhanid Persia.