Folio from a Shahnama (Book of kings) by Firdawsi (died 1020); verso: text and illustration: death of the giant Simurgh; recto: text

Historical period(s)
Il-Khanid dynasty, Mongol period, early 14th century
Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
H x W (overall): 25.2 x 18.7 cm (9 15/16 x 7 3/8 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Manuscript folio

death, Il-Khanid dynasty (1256 - 1353), Iran, Isfandiyar, naskh script, Shahnama, simurgh

To 1945
H. Kahn Monif (died 1968), Persian Antique Gallery, New York, NY, to 1945 [1]

From 1945
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from H. Kahn Monif in 1945


[1] Undated folder sheet note. For additional information, see Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List after 1920, Collections Management Office.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

H. Kahn Monif died 1968


This folio is from a copy of the Shahnama, created during the reign of the Mongol Il-khanid dynasty (1256-1353), which controlled Iran, Iraq, and parts of present-day Turkey. The image represents the death of the mythical bird Simurgh, which embodies benevolent supernatural forces in the epic. Compressed into a small space, the image is remarkable for evoking the intensity of the tragic moment.

Published References
  • Marianna Shreve Simpson. The Illustration of an Epic: The Earliest Shahnama Manuscripts. Outstanding Dissertations in the Fine Arts New York and London. pp. 93, 149, fig. 15.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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