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No. 23 Manuchehr enthroned with Rostam in attendance

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No. 23 Manuchehr enthroned with Rostam in attendance

Rashid al-Din, Jami’ al-Tawarikh (‘Compendium of Histories’)
Il-Khanid: Tabriz, 1314
Opaque watercolour, ink, gold and silver on paper
Edinburgh University Library, MS. Or. 20, fol. 6

In this illustration, the youthful Manuchehr is centrally enthroned and juxtaposed with the maturing warrior Rostam seated on the left. The painting does not illustrate a specific incident in the Shahnameh and Rostam is not even mentioned in the text, though he was born in the reign of Manuchehr.

The style of pen drawing and the limited use of colour owe much to Chinese work. Chinese and Mongol styles are also evident in the feet and finials of the throne, the scale pattern on the scabbard, and the gadrooned basin in the foreground. Recent conservation has largely reversed the effects of oxidization in silver used for highlights.

This is one of the earliest Shahnameh illustrations that are precisely datable. It belonged not to a Shahnameh manuscript, but to a copy of the Jami’ al-Tawarikh (‘Compendium of Histories’) that draws on the Shahnameh as one of its sources. The scholar-statesman Rashid al-Din compiled his work in Tabriz. In order to demonstrate the position of the Mongols and their subject peoples in world history (as understood at the time), he included accounts of the Buddha and of the Prophet Mohammad.

For other illustrations from the same manuscript see Nos. 24, 25 and 26.

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