Persian Rug Tells The Tragic Love Story Of Shirin and Khosrow
We recently acquired a magnificent antique Persian Sarouk rug that depicts the Persian tragic love story of Khosrow and Shirin. Since the rug sold after only one day of being on our site, we figured we would at least share the historical Persian tale.
This iconic Persian folk tale was authored by Nizami Ganjavi who lived during the high middle ages period of 1141 1209 CE. This is also the same legendary poet who also penned the famous Persian love story of ‘Layla and Majnun’.
Khosrow and Shirin is a work of fiction and a tale of love between the Sasanian king Khosrow II and Shirin, the Armenian Princess who went on and became the queen of Persia. This Persian love story is quite famous and has been the subject of several other artworks and tales written by different Persian authors over the centuries.
The Tragic Love Story Of Shirin and Khosrow
Ganjavi’s love story starts off with the birth and education of Khosrow. Following this, Khosrow is chastised by his father, Hormizd IV for throwing a feast in a farmer’s house. Khosrow begs for his fathers forgiveness and repents for his actions. Once he does this, his father, Hormizd IV, forgives him.
That night, Anushirvan, the grandfather of Khosrow, visits Khosrow in his dreams. Anushirvan tells him about the future, about his future wife Shirin, a riding horse who goes by the name of Shabdiz, Barbad the musician and the great kingdom of Persia.
One fine day, a close friend and painter named Shapur tells Khosrow of a beautiful woman and Armenian princess named Shirin. Apparently, Shirin was the niece of Mahim Banu, the queen of Greece. Not only does Shapur give Khosrow information about Shirin’s whereabouts, but he also goes on and vividly describes her beauty. After listening to it all, Khosrow falls madly in love with Shirin.
Shortly after, Shapur embarks on a journey to Armenia in search of Shirin. Upon finding her, Shapur shows her the picture of Khosrow and she falls in love with him. She grew immensely passionate for Khosrow and fled Armenian to travel to Mada’in, Khosrow’s capital in search of her love Khosrow. Meanwhile, sadly, Khosrow has a falling out with his father, and in an attempt to flee from his father’s anger, Khosrow sets out on a journey of his own to Armenia in search of his love Shirin.
Both Shirin and Khosrow have a chance encounter each other midway through their journey. Khosrow happens upon Shirin while she was bathing naked and washing her hair in a stream. Unfortunately, Khosrow disguised himself in peasant clothes which made him unrecognizable for Shirin and Khosrow doesn’t recognize her as well. Upon reaching her kingdom in Armenia, the queen Shamira welcomes him, and he finds out that Shirin is in his capital town of Mada’in in search of him.
This time too, Shapur is sent to bring Shirin back to Armenia, but due to a tragic turn of events that led to his father’s death, Khosrow had to return to Mada’in immediately. Sadly, both these lovers kept traveling to opposite places in search of one another and never meet each other. Later on, Khosrow is overthrown by general Bahram Chobin and flees to Armenia.
In Armenia, Shirin and Khosrow finally meet and Shirin welcomes him with open arms. However, Shirin declines the invitation to marriage and puts forth a condition. Until and unless Khosrow fights for his motherland and wins it back from general Bahram Chobin, she won’t marry him.
To win Shirin’s heart as well as his kingdom and Mada’in back, Khosrow leaves Armenia and set out to meet the Caesar in Constantinople. The Caesar agrees to help him wage war and overthrow genera Bahram Chobinl. Nevertheless, Caesar’s assistance came at a price. The Caesar’s clause was that he’d assist Khosrow only if Khosrow agrees to married Caesar’s daughter Mariam. Khosrow was also made to promise that he wouldn’t marry anyone else as long as his wife Mariam was alive. Khosrow agrees and with the help of Caesar, he overthrows the general Chobin and regains his throne.
While all this was happening, Farhad, a sculptor fell in love with Shirin and became Khosrow’s love rival. Khosrow couldn’t tolerate this and Farhad was then sent on on an exile to the Behistun mountain. Farhad is assigned a mammoth and impossible task of carving steps out of the cliff rocks. The sculptor begins this unreasonable task in hopes that Khosrow would let him marry Shirin. However, Khosrow sends false news of Shirin’s death to the sculptor. When Farhad hears this news he is heart broken and decides to commit suicide by throwing himself off a cliff.
After this incident, Khosrow writes a letter to Shirin faking his condolences and sadness over the untimely and unexpected death of Farhad. Soon after Farhad dies, Mariam passes away too.
(side note – in Ferdowsi’s version of the tale Shirin secretly poisoned Mariam for the sake of her love for Khosrow)
Though Khosrow is free to propose to Shirin, he first tries romancing a woman who goes by the name of Shekar in Isfahan. After some time goes by, his trials of intimacy with Shekar end and he finally embarks to Shirin’s castle to see her. When he arrives Shirin notices that Khusrow is drunk . Because of this, Shirin refuses his admission into the castle and makes her objects about his affair with Shekar known.
Disappointed and dejected, Khosrow returns to his own palace. Finally, after a few more heroic deeds and maneuvers, Shirin finally agrees to marry Khosrow.
But then, in an Oedipus like twist, Shiroy – Khosrow’s son from Mariam, falls in love with Shirin and murders his father, Khosrow, for her. He then sends her a messenger instructing her that after a week of morning, she then must marry him. Heartbroken and unwilling to marry her son in law Shiroy, Shirin decides to kills herself.
After their deaths, Kushrow and Shirin finally become one and are buried together in a single grave.
*So ends the epic and tragic love Story of Shirin and Khosrow. Please note that the first image in this blog shows the small scatter size rug that depicts the tragic love story Of Shirin and Khosrow that we recently sold. It was a magnificent example of the artistic Persian weaving. It could be hung and used as a wall hanging antique tapestry rug or as a small square decorative accent Persian rug.