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Image of Rustam blinds Esfandiar with an arrow

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Bookmark: https://collection.sdmart.org/objects-1/info/5271

Rustam blinds Esfandiar with an arrow


Creation date: 16th century
Creation place: Iran

Other Information

Type: Manuscript Painting
Medium and Support: Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Credit Line: Gift of the University Women's Club, 1927
Accession Number: 1927.14
State/Province: Fars Province
Dimensions: 13 17/32 in. x 8 31/32 in. (34.4 cm x 22.8 cm)

Provenance

Persian Art Centre, Inc., New York, New York ( - May 4, 1927)

San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, California (May 4, 1927 - )

Label Copy

December 2007
Asian Court Rotation
This illustration of a much-loved and poignant heroic tale from the Persian national epic known as the Shahnameh or Book of Kings depicts Rustam killing Esfandiar. The drama draws its strength from the fact that both combatants are heroes and are mutually appreciative of each other’s strength and virtues, and do their utmost to avert the tragic end, but to no avail. Rustam is shown on the left with his distinct zoomorphic headgear, having just blinded (and thereby ultimately killed) Esfandiar in both eyes with a two-headed arrow. The arrow is shown being removed by the victim, who is on the ground after his fall from his black horse, a position which is somewhat unusual in illustrations of this period. The figures in the background are lamenting the victim, where one of them is described in the text as “with cheeks all tears of blood and heart all anguish.”
The combatants as well as their horses create rhythmic patterns of shape and color across the page. The landscape is shown with a high horizon; plants inserted for decorative purposes in the composition are typical in Persian painting of this period.

Sonya Quintanilla (2014) Quebec
Rustam blinds Esfandiar with an arrow
From a Shahnama (“Book of Kings”)
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper, 16th century
Iran, 13 17/32 in. x 8 31/32 in. (34.4 cm x 22.8 cm)
Museum purchase with funds provided by the University Women's Club, 1927.14
This illustration from Iran, of a much-loved and poignant heroic tale from the Persian national epic, depicts Rustam killing Esfandiar. The drama draws its strength from the fact that both combatants are heroes and are mutually appreciative of each other’s strength and virtues, and do their utmost to avert the tragic end, but to no avail. Rustam is shown on the left with his distinct zoomorphic headgear, having just blinded (and thereby ultimately killed) Esfandiar in both eyes with a two-headed arrow. The arrow is shown being removed by the victim, who is on the ground after his fall from his black horse, a position which is somewhat unusual in illustrations of this period. The figures in the background are lamenting the victim, where one of them is described in the text as “with cheeks all tears of blood and heart all anguish.”
The combatants as well as their horses create rhythmic patterns of shape and color across the page. The landscape is shown with a high horizon; plants inserted for decorative purposes in the composition are typical in Persian painting of this period.
Last Updated: 3/6/2021

Exhibition

This object was included in the following exhibitions:

The Arts of Persia: From the Ninth to the Nineteenth Centuries, Norton Simon Museum of Art , 9/28/1949 - 11/21/1949

The Horse in Art San Diego Museum of Art , 1/18/1963 - 2/24/1963

Into India: South Asian Paintings from The San Diego Museum of Art San Diego Museum of Art , 2/28/2012 - 5/27/2012

Bibliography

This object has the following bibliographic references:

The Arts of Persia and Mohammedan India: Norton Simon Museum of Art. Pasadena, California, 1949
Page Number: 12, 14 no. 38a

Dr. Sonya Quintanilla and Patrick Coleman. Visiones de la India Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Madrid, 2012
Page Number: 82, 266, Figure Number: cat. 29, p. 83

Dr. Sonya Quintanilla and Patrick Coleman. Visiones de la India (Mexico) Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia. Mexico , 2013
Page Number: 152, Figure Number: cat. 29, p. 159

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