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Isfandiar Fighting the Simorgh


     This project is an adaptation of a medieval manuscript page depicting a narrative from Iranian poet Ferdowsi's masterpiece Shahnameh, or Book of Persian Kings.  My knowledge of the actual source is still spotty, but I will update this description when I know better.  The manuscript page is associated with several dates, two cities and the name Ali b. Husayni Bahmani.  The two cities associated with the image are Shiraz and Istanbul, perhaps where the image was created and where it came to reside.  The dates (731 /a.d. 1330. and 1479) could represent differences between various calendars (Islamic, Persian and Christian) the date of the image's completion, or when it was bound within a manuscript.    

     Isfandiar is a Persian hero who seems to go awry.  He is an admirable figure who completes seven tasks (similar to Heracles) but runs afoul when he faces off against the true Heracles of Persian legend, the great Rostam.  Rostam eventually defeats Isfandiar with the help of the great Simorgh, a sort of Persian Phoenix, and benevolent helper to heroes.  This image seems to refer to Isfandiar's fight with the Simorgh's mate, which was one of his seven labors.  Isfandiar defeats the majestic creature by tricking it into attacking a wagon covered in spikes, thus trapping itself.  Only the wagon's stylized wheels are visible in the image.  

     I fell in love with the brilliant colors of this image and believe my stained glass adaptation will catch its fiery spirit.  As with my other narrative stained glass projects, it is a complex image that draws on a different style of representation and I only came to understand that the background shapes were stylized hills, trees and vegetation after working on it extensively.  

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