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Kay Kavus embraces Siyavush after the fire ordeal

Kay Kavus embraces Siyavush after the fire ordeal

Leaf from a disbound manuscript of Firdausi, Shahnama (Book of kings), copied c 1430 for Ibrahim Sultan of Shiraz

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, MS Ouseley Add 176, fol 99v

After Siyavush successfully rides through a huge fire on his beautiful black horse, his father, the foolish king Kay Kavus, is forced to acknowledge his son’s innocence of the charge that he fathered twin babies to his stepmother, Sudaba.

The story is an echo of the Qurʾanic telling of Yusuf and Zulaykha, or Joseph and Potiphar’s wife, as the protagonists are known in the Biblical book of Genesis.

Once he is publicly exonerated, Siyavush asks his father to forgive Sudaba for bringing the charge against him. In this starkly symmetrical illustration, father and son embrace in an act of relief, reconciliation and love.