The warrior Giv, a legendary hero from Firdausi's Shahnama Qajar Persia, first quarter of the 19th Century

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Lot 60R
The warrior Giv, a legendary hero from Firdausi's Shahnama
Qajar Persia, first quarter of the 19th Century

£ 20,000 - 30,000
US$ 24,000 - 36,000
The warrior Giv, a legendary hero from Firdausi's Shahnama
Qajar Persia, first quarter of the 19th Century
oil on canvas, inscribed upper and centre right in nasta'liq script, framed
166 x 81 cm.

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    H.E. the Baron Paternotte de La Vaillée, Belgian ambassador to Jordan and Lebanon from 1967–1970, and thence by descent.

    Inscriptions: Giv ibn Gudarz and a later identification, 'Hurr ibn Riyahi according to (?) Aqa Murtaza (?) ...'.

    The legendary warrior Giv is the subject of this imposing oil painting. One of the main heroes in the Persian national epic, Firdausi's tenth-century masterpiece the Shahnama, Giv is a figure known for being chosen as the recipient of a divine message from the angel Saroush. Coming to his father Goudarz in a dream, Saroush tasks the young Giv with bringing the great king Kay Khosrow back to Iran. The arduous quest takes seven years, and Giv is full of apprehension as he seeks the king. In the end, however, he is rewarded by Kay Khosrow, who commends his rescuer as a 'lion warrior'.

    Hurr ibn Yazid Riyahi was one of those who fought in the battle of Kufa, and was martyred together with Imam Husayn and others. His martyrdom is celebrated among Shi'is in 'Ashura. The later inscription naming the figure alternatively as the Shi'a martyr demonstrates the continuity and co-identification between pre-Islamic and Islamic characters and concepts of heroism in Persian culture.

    During the second decade of Fath 'Ali Shah's rule, portrait painters began to reduce significantly the background detail in their portraits. Here, the warrior Giv is depicted in a desolate landscape. The minimal background is handled in a similar fashion to that in a portrait of Fath 'Ali Shah in armour dated AH 1230/ AD 1814-15 in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington (LTS 19995.2.122). Further similarities are evident in the dress of the king, in particular the striped shawl wrapped around the helmet adorned with jewels and feathers and the shape of his pearl-encrusted mail neckguard and armour.

    Large-scale works such as the present lot were often part of the decorative schemes of the interior architecture of the upper echelons of Qajar society, as aristocrats would commission artists to richly emblazon their walls with scenes from literary or religious tradition. The top of the canvas peaks in a distinctive arch, indicating the intention to insert the picture into a niche.
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