Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • The Feast of Sada: From the Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Shah Tahmasp, ca. 1525
    Attributed to Sultan Muhammad (Iranian, active first half of 16th century)
    Iran, Tabriz
    Colors, ink, silver, and gold on paper; 18 1/2 x 12 5/8 in. (47 x 32.1 cm)
    Gift of Arthur A. Houghton Jr., 1970 (1970.301.2)

    The first kings of Iran contributed to civilize humanity by introducing a variety of activities and crafts. Fire, however, was an accidental discovery. According to legend, one day King Hushang saw a hideous monster hiding behind a rock and tried to scare him by throwing a stone at him. Hitting a boulder, the rock produced sparks, and fire was discovered. The shah interpreted this as a divine gift and decided to celebrate the event on that same night with a great gathering. Hence, the feast of Sada, commemorating the discovery of fire, was established.

    The exuberant quality of this composition has long been associated with the style of Sultan Muhammad, a major artist of the early Safavid period and the director of the manuscript project for several years. The scene develops around its main protagonist—fire, surrounded by a lively and colorful crowd of humans and animals. The gathering is framed by iridescent rock formations hiding monstrous shapes, which could be interpreted as entrapped spirits, perhaps a visual pun by the artist meant as a reminder of the unwitting cause of Hushang's discovery.

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  • The Feast of Sada: From the Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Shah Tahmasp, ca. 1525
    Attributed to Sultan Muhammad (Iranian, active first half of 16th century)
    Iran, Tabriz
    Colors, ink, silver, and gold on paper; 18 1/2 x 12 5/8 in. (47 x 32.1 cm)
    Gift of Arthur A. Houghton Jr., 1970 (1970.301.2)


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