"Zahhak is Told His Fate", Folio 29v from the Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Shah Tahmasp

Author: Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020)

Artist: Painting attributed to Sultan Muhammad (active first half 16th century)

Object Name: Folio from an illustrated manuscript

Date: ca. 1524

Geography: Made in Iran, Tabriz

Medium: Opaque watercolor, ink, silver, and gold on paper

Dimensions: Painting: H. 7 3/8 in. (18.7 cm)
W. 12 15/16 in. (32.9 cm)
Page: H. 12 9/16 in. (31.9 cm)
W. 18 1/2 in. (47 cm)
Mat: H. 22 in. (55.9 cm)
W. 16 in. (40.6 cm)

Classification: Codices

Credit Line: Gift of Arthur A. Houghton Jr., 1970

Accession Number: 1970.301.4


The evil king Zahhak faints when his wise men reveal the meaning of his nightmare: that one Faridun, as yet unborn, will justly bring about his downfall and death. The logical disposition of figures in space reflects the influence of the late Timurid Herat School of painting, whereas the bending rosebush and snail-like clouds at the right derive from Turkmen painting as practiced at Tabriz. The animated characterizations, however, are typical of the work of Sultan Muhammad, head of the royal workshop.