Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
& CULTURAL NEWS©
Shahnameh Picture Depicted on a Tile Piece
Period - Cultural
The Persian epic Shahnameh is believed to have
been completed by the legendary poet Master Ferdowsi in 10th
century. But it took some two centuries before the first
paintings of the epic were drawn.
A piece of an octagonal tile, currently held in the fine arts
museum in Boston, could be the oldest picture made on the
stories of the epic. It depicts a scene from Shahnameh above
which reads a tablet "leaving the Forud fortress by
Painter and painting expert Aydin Aqdashlu maintains it is the
oldest surviving picture from the Shahnameh.
"The first noted Shahnameh is the Florence Shahnameh,
written in 1217. Given that Ferdowsi finished his epic in
1010/11, Florence is the first handwritten edition of Shahnameh
without any pictures," he remarked.
Aqdashlu noted the tile piece in Boston was highly likely to be
made in the early 13th century and no other picture has been
found to predate it.
Yet he is on the belief that during the intervening two hundred
years paintings have been made of Shahnameh none of which has
survived so far.
Ferdowsi was born in 329 or 330 in Tous near Mashhad in
northeastern Iran. There is little information regarding his
life. Judging on his poetry, experts speculate he died in 1010.
Shahnameh is lengthy, 60,000 line epic which includes three
mythological, heroic and historical periods. The mythological
period includes the reign of Kayoumars until Fereydun. The
second period covers uprising of Kaveh until death of Rostam and
the third period continues the story from the late Kian reign.
is the Light on the Path to Future"
British Institute of Persian Studies