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The simurgh arrives to assist with the birth of Rustam, from the Book of Kings (Shahnama)

Mohammad Zaman1675-1676 (1086 AH)

Chester Beatty

Chester Beatty
Dublin, Ireland

The simurgh arrives to assist with the birth of Rustam, from the Book of Kings (Shahnama) by Firdausi.
Detached folio, ink, pigments and gold on paper, Persian text with illumination, chapter-heading and (added later) full-page painting, one of twenty-two folios from a partial copy of the Shahnama, attributed to the early reign of Safavid Shah `Abbas I, possibly Qazvin, c. 1590-1600, this painting signed by Muhammad Zaman and dated 1086 AH (1675-1676) added in Isfahan, Iran, 1675-1676.
Recto: four text-columns of Persian poetry in diagonal, with illuminated panels and chapter-heading (Rudabeh's Pregnancy with Rustam, and the Arrival of the Simurgh).
Verso: full-page painting by Muhammad Zaman, the simurgh comes to assist Rudabeh in labour. The simurgh (a giant magical bird) flies down into the picture-frame, in response to an appeal from her former foster-son Zal, during the labour of his wife Rudabeh. With the simurgh's help, Rudabeh gives birth (via Caesarean section) to Rustam, who will grow up to become the great hero of Firdausi's epic.
The Safavid court painter Muhammad Zaman was renowned for his exquisite work in the European mode (farangi-saz, in Persian), which is why he was appointed to add two modern paintings to this older manuscript from the royal library.

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