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No. 77 The Simorgh heals Rakhsh

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No. 77 The Simorgh heals Rakhsh

Ferdowsi, Shahnameh
Safavid: Shiraz, c.1590–1595
Opaque watercolour, ink and gold on paper
London, British Library, MS Add. 27257, fol. 306v

Rostam and his horse Rakhsh were severely wounded in combat with prince Esfandiyar. Rostam retreated to his father, Zal, who burnt a feather of the Simorgh and summoned her assistance. The magical bird drew eight arrowheads out of Rostam and six out of Rakhsh, and provided another of her feathers to stroke and heal their wounds. We see the fully restored Rostam — whose wide turban indicates the period of Shah ‘Abbas I (1587–1629) — kneeling behind his father. They are surrounded by the three braziers mentioned in the text. The Simorgh’s questing beak is the chief focus. The main image and the margin are both united and divided by the Simorgh’s streaming tail, reminding the viewer that she is a creature of two worlds.

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