This miniature tells the story of how Sindukht came to the court of Sam after emptying the Royal treasury of Kabul. She carried 300,000 gold coins to be scattered before him, as well as thirty Arab and Persian horses caparisoned with silver, a gold throne, jewels and a huge baggage train including four elephants bearing rich fabrics. The miniature shows in wonderful detail the princess's servants bearing the gifts and three of the elephants in the background. She is accompanied by three maidens who carry dishes full of rubies. The painting is of superb quality with beautiful details such as the shoes on the horses' feet which are of gold pricked to show the nails, and a wonderful blue and gold brocade bag containing a manuscript held by a servant in the lower right hand corner.
Welch sees this miniature as a collaboration of two artists, Painter A and Painter C whom he identifies as 'Abd al-Vahhab, the father of 'Abd al-Aziz, who also worked on this manuscript and is known as Painter D. Painter A may be a artist known as Qadimi, recognised as a lesser master of a very exalted studio, whose speciality was in vulgar characters, almost caricatures and in very charming and lively depictions of animals. Painter C is the artist Kamal-al-Din 'Abd al-Vahhab ibn 'Abd al-Fattah al-Kashani, a more spiritual type, who is probably responsible for the rather sweet looking ladies. (Dickson M.B. and Welch S.C.: The Houghton Shahnameh, Cambridge, Mass. and London, Harvard University Press, 1981, vol.I, pp. 201-210 and 214-6, vol.II, pl.70)
Completed in the early years of the Safavid ruler Shah Tahmasp (1524-76), this magnificent copy of the Shahnameh was the result of a massive collaboration between the leading painters, calligraphers and illuminators of the day. It comprises 759 folios of which 258 have miniatures, probably the largest number of paintings in any copy of the Shahnameh. The manuscript was also physically a large object, the folio size being 18 1/2 x 12 1/2 in. (47 x 31.7cm.). The colophon is lacking, so we do not know the identity of the calligrapher nor when he completed the work, but one of the miniatures is dated AH 934/1527 AD and there is a beautifully illuminated shamsa with dedication to the Shah on f.16r. Comparison with the contemporary Khamseh of Nizami in the British Library copied betweeen 1539 and 1543 has enabled many of the artists of the Shahnameh to be identified. The paintings are attributable to all the major Persian artists of the first half of the 16th century. (Preface to catalogue of the sale at Christie's, 11 October 1988; Canby, S: Princes, Poets and Paladins, London, 1998, nos. 24-9, pp. 47-54).
A great deal has been written in recent years on the manuscript from which this illustrated leaf comes, a manuscript which is generally held to represent the high point of Persian miniature painting and book production.