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© Cambridge University Library
Accession Number:
Add 269
Gregorian Date:
1580 (circa)
Library of East India House, 15 August 1806; Academiae Cantabrigiensis (ex libris).
Folios extant in ms.:
Columns x Rows:
4 x 25
Page Size (h x w):
368 x 232 mm
Text Size (h x w):
239 x 125 mm
Colophon Folio:
Sample Page Folio:
Ms Type:
Ms Status:
Completion Status:
Ready to upload to website
Illuminations in ms:
Illustrations in ms:
13 ( 2 frontispiece(s) 11 Shahnama )
Illustration Records in archive:
Last updated by:
Date last updated:
2012-06-14 22:43
Public Notes
The record is to be improved in terms of the colour value of the images.

Provenance: in the beginning of the 19th century the manuscript was acquired probably straight from the Library of East India House: on f.1r there is an ex libris of the Library, signed by Chas Wilkins, Librarian on 15 August 1806, Academiae Cantabrigiensis.

F.1v contains a characteristic drop-shaped Golkonda seal-mark which appears to be that of Muhammad [Quli] Qutbshah (988-1020 AH) with the date 1012/1603-4 and a later Persian inscription dated 1019/1610-11.

Date: there is no indication when the manuscript was finished. The formal colophon states only: tamam shud kitab-i Shahnama hakim-i Firdausi-yi Tusi alaihi al-rahmat wa ghufran (‘The book of the Shahnama by Hakim Firdausi Tusi, mercy and forgiveness be upon him, has been finished’), which means that no other information regarding the place of completion, the name of the calligrapher himself, etc. is available. E.G. Browne suggested the 16th - early 17th century as a possible date; the attribution supported by Sheila Canby.

Text status: Almost full copy, missing the beginning of the prose introduction (not more than one page).

Ff.2v-3r have luxuriously executed double carpet page shamsas in gold and polychrome.

Ff. 3r-16r contain the prose introduction (the Baysunghur version), which starts with the regular incipit: iftitah-i sukhan an bih ki kunand ahl-i kamal…

F.2v has a dedication/ex libris of a royal library, which is almost illegible due to the polychrome arabesque ornament, decorating the inscription.

The satire on Mahmud is of average length and standard incipit (ff. 12v-13v).

F.3v has a regular incipit, opening with the bait: Faridun khurshid-i Jamshid-ishan…, which is the continuation of the Baysunghur preface, but with the gap of about one page after the explicit of the previous page.

Poem starts on f.16v with the normative incipit, below the unvan, executed in a contrasting palette of blue, dark ultramarine blue, lilac-pink, yellow, red, black, white and gold.

List of kings is missing.

Explicit of the poem is (f.559r): Har an kas ki darad hush-u ra-yi din

Pas az marg-i man kunad afarin

Physical description:

559 folios. Page size: 368 x 232 (14,4 x 9,1 ins); text size: 239 x 125 (9,4 x 4,9 ins). Text written in 4 columns, 25 lines, in Indian ink. Headings in white or varicoloured nasta‘liq are enclosed in rectangular frames filled in with the neat floral design in polychrome. Text field is divided into four columns by frames in red, yellow, black, brown and gold.

Condition: MS slightly suffered from wet, especially the first part of the MS. Some paints of the miniatures are missing.

This manuscript was in a very fragile condition and was not accessible during the winter 1999-2000; in the late 2002 it was sent to the Conservation Department of the UL and went through a thorough restoration and conservation by Kristine Rose and Deborah Farndell.

Paper Oriental creamy, thin, slightly glossy.

Binding of multi-coloured leather, with guilded medallions and ornations. The spine was a later addition during the restoration in the 19th century.

Illuminations and illustrations: The manuscript is richly illuminated. Margins are usually decorated with feathery large blossoms in gold, sometimes the design includes besides floral and herbal details animalistic ornamentation with large birds and deer in gold.

13 miniatures by at least two artists, 2 of them, the full-page frontispieces (‘Sulayman enthroned’ and ‘Bilqis enthroned’) were executed by Artist A. The other 11 paintings of good quality and excellent condition were produced by Artist B in the mid-Safavid period.

The choice of the executed miniatures seems quite odd: the most popular subjects (see Mehran, 1998), like “Rustam kills the White Div”, “Rustam kills Suhrab”, the “Fire ordeal of Siyavush”, “Rustam, slaying Ashkabus and his horse”, “Rustam shoots Isfandiyar” and several others are missing.


General Ref:
Browne, E.G. A catalogue of the Persian manuscripts in the library of the University of Cambridge. Cambridge Univerity Press. Cambridge. UK.
General Ref:
Mehran, F. Student. 2 (4) pp. 351-379 Neufchatel. Switzerland.
General Ref:
Rose, K. Ms. (in Shahnama Studies I) (ed. Melville, Ch.) pp. 277-286 E & E Plumridge. Cambridge. U.K..
Dating Ref:
Canby, S.R. Personal communication.