MS M.445, fols. 202v–3

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Khamsa (The Quintet), in Persia

India, probably Ahmedabad
ca. 1618
244 x 145 mm

Purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan (1837–1913) in 1910

MS M.445
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Bahram Gur's Trick Shot

Bahram Gur was a Sassanian king (r. 430–38) whose renown as a great lover and hunter inspired many stories. A section of Nizami's popular Khamsa, devoted to the king's exploits, relates the following. One day, while hunting with Fitna, his harpist slave girl, he felled both a tiger and an onager, but she was not impressed, attributing the result to many years of training. She then challenged him to pin an onager's hind hoof to its ear. Two arrows were required for the trick. The first grazed the animal's ear, causing it to raise its foot to scratch it, while the second quickly pinned the hoof to its ear. Coincidentally, Bahram's nickname, Gur, is the Persian name for "onager," a wild ass. At the bottom right, two hunters approach the felled tiger; the trick shot is depicted at the upper left.