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Rustam Fending off the Rock Dropped by Bahman (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi

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King Gushtasp sent his son Isfandiyar to bring the mighty hero Rustam to court in chains, promising Isfandiyar the throne if he could accomplish this feat. Searching for Rustam, Isfandiyar’s son Bahman came upon the hero roasting an onager in his hunting grounds and decided to kill him immediately, sparing his father a dangerous confrontation. From the top of a mountain he pried loose a large boulder and sent it rolling downhill toward Rustam, whose brother Zavara heard the noise and cried out in warning. Rather than move, however, the hero calmly waited until the stone was nearly upon him and then kicked it away. Impressed by Rustam’s power, Bahman approached him and told him of Isfandiyar’s mission. In the painting, Rustam is shown at the crucial moment of danger, yet, as the text describes, he remains seated, roasting his supper on a spit and merely stretching out his leg to kick away the large rock. Next to him his horse, Rakhsh, grazes undisturbed. Rustam’s hunting party rounds the horizon at the upper right, unaware of the incident, but two figures at the lower left witness and point at the scene. From behind the rocky ridge on the left, Bahman looks on, his finger to his mouth in astonishment. Animals, birds, and flowers rendered in delicate detail provide a soothing contrast to this tense moment of drama.
Department of Islamic & Later Indian Art [Christies London 17 October 1995 lot no. 79]. [Mansour Gallery London before] sold; to Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood Belmont MA (by 1998-2002) gift; to Harvard Art Museums 2002. Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art
Title: Rustam Fending off the Rock Dropped by Bahman (painting, recto; text, verso), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
Description:
King Gushtasp sent his son Isfandiyar to bring the mighty hero Rustam to court in chains, promising Isfandiyar the throne if he could accomplish this feat.
Searching for Rustam, Isfandiyar’s son Bahman came upon the hero roasting an onager in his hunting grounds and decided to kill him immediately, sparing his father a dangerous confrontation.
From the top of a mountain he pried loose a large boulder and sent it rolling downhill toward Rustam, whose brother Zavara heard the noise and cried out in warning.
Rather than move, however, the hero calmly waited until the stone was nearly upon him and then kicked it away.
Impressed by Rustam’s power, Bahman approached him and told him of Isfandiyar’s mission.
In the painting, Rustam is shown at the crucial moment of danger, yet, as the text describes, he remains seated, roasting his supper on a spit and merely stretching out his leg to kick away the large rock.
Next to him his horse, Rakhsh, grazes undisturbed.
Rustam’s hunting party rounds the horizon at the upper right, unaware of the incident, but two figures at the lower left witness and point at the scene.
From behind the rocky ridge on the left, Bahman looks on, his finger to his mouth in astonishment.
Animals, birds, and flowers rendered in delicate detail provide a soothing contrast to this tense moment of drama.

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