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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

Arts of the Islamic World

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.

MEDIUM Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
DATES late 15th–early 16th century
PERIOD Aqqoyunlu period
DIMENSIONS 9 1/2 x 5 7/16 in. (24.1 x 13.8 cm)  (show scale)
CREDIT LINE Gift of the Ernest Erickson Foundation, Inc.
PROVENANCE Prior to 1968, provenance not yet documented; by 1968, acquired by Ernest Erickson of New York, NY; December 16, 1986, gift of Ernest Erickson Foundation, Inc. to the Brooklyn Museum.
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MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION The Sasanian King Khusraw and Courtiers in a Garden, Page from a manuscript of the Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Firdawsi, late 15th–early 16th century. Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper, 9 1/2 x 5 7/16 in. (24.1 x 13.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Ernest Erickson Foundation, Inc., 86.227.176 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 86.227.176_recto_IMLS_PS3.jpg)
IMAGE recto, 86.227.176_recto_IMLS_PS3.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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