The manuscript entered the library in 1939. According to a colophon at the end of the first part (jild) of the Shahnama (f. 344v) this was completed at the end of Safar 1042/middle of September 1632 by Ahsan b. Ahmad. Since the last folio of the volume is lost, the time of the completion of the text can only be concluded from the date at the end of the Baysunghur preface (f. 10v), Rajab 1043/January 1634.
The copying done, the manuscript was left unfinished. Of the originally intended illuminations none was executed, not even the lines framing the columns. The uneven quality of the writing, mainly a good professional nasta'liq, but deteriorating in some places, may have played a role in the abandoning of the work.
The 26 miniatures were added about 200 years later in the early Qajar period. With their simple compositions and dark colours without lustre, they are of mediocre quality. The main actors confront the onlooker instead of communicating with each other, thus turning the scene into a charade. The painter must have seen his most important task in spreading as many jewels as possible on the men’s attire.
The only large interpolation is the Barzunama. It is unusually placed following the story about Suhrab (ff. 120r-142r) and provided with two miniatures, a comparatively high rate as against the total number of illustrations (26). Generally, the selection of episodes favours well-known subjects and demonstrates the common neglect - particularly since the later half of the 16th century - of the 'historical' part of the Shahnama. Only two of the miniatures (ff. 202r, 468r) are dedicated to rarely illustrated subjects.
I. Stchoukine, B. Flemming, P. Luft & H. Sohrweide, Illuminierte islamische Handschriften, Wiesbaden, 1971, pp. 109-10, no. 39.
Gabrielle van den Berg, "The The Barzunama in the Berlin Shahnama Manuscripts", forthcoming in Ch. Melville, ed. Proceedings of the Second Cambridge Shahnama Round Table, November 2003.