Rostam kills the White Demon

The Seventh Trial

On his quest to rescue King Kavus from demons, the hero Rostam had to succeed in many trials of his courage and strength.

This was the seventh and final heroic trial that Rostam had to go through: fighting the White Demon. This demon was very strong and could perform powerful sorcery. After he had rescued King Kavus, he realised that they would never be free until Rostam had faced and defeated the demon. As this image shows, the White Demon lived in a dark cave which was said to be ‘as dark as the mouth of hell’ . While the guide Ulad was tied to a tree outside, Rostam bravely entered. He found that the demon, whose huge body was monstrously pale and pasty like a ghoul, was asleep. A bloody fight followed, with Rostam using his sword to kill the dragon.

This miniature illumination is from a Persian manuscript of the Shahname which dates from the 15th century. It has seventy two miniature illustrations showing characters and scenes from the epic. The artwork in this version of the Shahname is particularly fine.

Taken from: Shahname
Author / Creator: unknown
Publisher: none
Date: 1450
Copyright: By permission of the British Library Board
Shelfmark: Islamic Add. 18188 f.94b