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The Sasanian King Khusraw and Courtiers in a Garden, Page from a manuscript of the Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Firdawsi

The painting on the page from a Shāhnāma manuscript portrays an enthronement scene from Iranian court life. The ruler, dressed in an elaborate headpiece, sits in a garden upon a raised, gilded throne, surronded by attendants courtiers, and musicians. Although the illustration appears to be somewhat generic—it could represent an enthronement setting for any given ruler—the text reveals that it actually illustrates an episode from the reign of the Sasanian king Khusraw (ruled 590–628) as recounted in the Shāhnāma. The tale describes the way in which the skilled musician Barbad became a part of King Khusraw's court. According to the story, the ambitious Barbad charmed the kind with his beautiful voice and lute playing. Khusraw, overwhelmed by Barbad's talent, dismissed his former musician, Sargish, and offered the position to Barbad. In this scene, this figures situated closest to the ruler include the attendant standing behind him, a cupbearer seated next to a wine carafe, and two men kneeling before King Khusraw, most likely representing the musicians Barbad and Sargish.


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