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Photos: Rostam and Esfandyar, tales from the Shahnameh at Tehran's City Theater Complex

Rostam-Esfandiar-iDirected by: Pari Saberi

The Esfandyar of legend is best known from the tragic story of a battle with Rostam, as described in Ferdowsi’s epic Shahnameh, or Book of Kings. It is one of the longest episodes in the epic, and one of its literary highlights.

Esfandyar is promised the throne by his father Goshtasp if he manages to repel an invasion in far-off provinces. Esfandyar is successful at this, but his father stalls and instead sends him off on another mission to suppress a rebellion in Turan. Esfandyar is again successful, and upon his return Goshtasp hedges once again and – although he is aware of a prediction that foretells the death of Esfandyar at the hand of Rostam – compels the young hero to go and bring the aging Rostam in chains for his arrogance and not paying due respect to the king. Although Esfandyar initially protests, reminding his father of Rostam’s fame, great age and services to the dynasty, he eventually complies with his father’s wishes and sets out towards Rostam.


Upon reaching the home of Rostam, Esfandyar delivers the message, but Rostam refuses to comply with being put in chains, accepting only to accompany the young prince to his father’s. Esfandyar insists, but Rostam – although making numerous concessions – stands his ground, and the two eventually meet in single combat. Unknown to Rostam is the fact that Esfandyar had bathed in a pool of invincibility, and in the subsequent battle, Esfandyar is unaffected by Rostam’s blows while the champion is seriously wounded.


Pleading respite to dress his wounds, Rostam withdraws, where he learns of Esfandyar’s secret and of his weakness: when Esfandyar swam in the pool of invincibility, he kept his eyes closed, and it is through these that the young prince can be vanquished. Upon hearing this, Rostam fashions a forkhead arrow with a feather of Simurgh and a twig of a tamarisk tree, and when the battle resumes the next morning, Esfandyar is slain by a shot through the eyes.






















Photos by : Marzieh Mousavi IRNA
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Shah Nameh Animation ( The Book Of Kings , Rostam and Esfandiar)