Photo © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
The birth of Rustam
Illustration to the Shahnameh

Kashmir, India
19th century
Gouache on paper
H: 15.5; W: 12 cm
Bequest of Yuhanna Dawud, London
Accession number: O.S.B77.10.3995
Rustam’s extraordinary size made his birth extremely difficult. Zal, Rustam’s father, sought the advice of Simurgh, the mythical bird, in order to relieve the pain of his wife, Rudaba. Simurgh instructed Zal to put his wife into a deep sleep, cut an incision in her side, and extract the baby from her womb. Rustam was so enormous that ten wetnurses were needed to feed him.

Digital presentation of this object was made possible by: The Ridgefield Foundation, New York, in memory of Henry J. and Erna D. Leir