AKM85, Sindukht Presents Gifts To Sam

© The Aga Khan Museum
AKM85, Sindukht Presents Gifts To Sam, Back

© The Aga Khan Museum

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Sindukht Presents Gifts To Sam
Folio from a dispersed copy of Firdausi’s Shahnameh (Book of Kings)
  • Accession Number:AKM85
  • Place:Western Iran
  • Dimensions:16.4 x 13 cm
  • Date:late 13th or early 14th century
  • Materials and Technique:ink, opaque watercolour, gold, and silver on paper
  • This folio from the dispersed copy of the “Second Small” Shahnameh (Book of Kings) comes from the Shahnameh’s second, legendary, section. The love that sprang up between the Iranian prince, Zal, and the princess of Kabul, Rudabeh, offers the background for this painting. The scene is presented as a horizontal strip with a golden ground extending across the entire page. Zal’s father, Sam, white-bearded and gold-crowned, sits at the left.  Rudabeh’s mother, Sindukht, also garbed and crowned in gold and carrying a large golden dish, stands before him, in the center of the picture. To the left is her retinue, attendants, horses, and elephants arrayed behind her.


    See AKM16 for an introduction to the “Second Small” Shahnameh.

Further Reading


White-haired from birth,[1] Zal, son of “Great Sam, a champion among heroes” in the reign of Shah Manuchihr, grew into a champion in his own right. As his birthright, he received the land of Zabul from his father. One day, Zal travelled beyond his own domain and paid a visit to Mihrab, the King of Kabul. Despite his descent from the tyrant Zahhak, Mihrab greeted Zal and honoured him. During the welcoming feast, Zal heard of Mihrab’s daughter Rudabeh, “lovelier than the sun.” The two were seized by mutual passion, and soon determined to marry. Objections to their union, however, came from all sides. Rudabeh’s mother, Sindukht, at last approved of the match, but each of the fathers opposed it—one distrusting a son-in-law who was prematurely white-haired, the other disapproving of a daughter-in-law descended from Zahhak. Both fathers feared the destructive wars each might inflict upon the other, and the young pair became increasingly frustrated. Rudabeh’s mother, Sindukht, at last paid a conciliatory visit to Sam and brought him rich gifts. (See AKM496)


Upon Sindukh’t successful mission, Zal and Rudabeh married and their son Rustam was safely delivered.[2]


The Aga Khan Museum Collection has four folios from the “Second Small” Shahnameh, AKM16AKM17, AKM18 and AKM85. Along with one folio from the “First Small” Shahnameh, AKM19.


— Eleanor Sims

[1] Zal’s white hair was initially a source of shame to his father Sam. Concerned that all around him would think his son a demon’s child, he had the infant taken far away to the Alburz Mountains, where the wondrous bird called Simurgh had her nest. The great bird reared the child with her own chicks and he thrived. Before the child left the Simurgh’s nest, she gave him several feathers, saying that if he were ever in mortal danger, he must throw one into a fire and the Simurgh would provide succour. Then he left the mountains with his father, for Shah Manuchihr’s court.
[2] The event accomplished with help obtained by the burning of one of the Simurgh’s feathers.


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