The manuscript was purchased by the library in 1924. It has a Qajar lacquer painted binding (without flap) decorated on the outside with bouquets and on the inside with a central medallion and pendants filled with figures and birds.
The double-page frontispiece on ff. 1v-2r contains a text in the central area surrounded by panels on all four sides and triangles reaching into the top, bottom and outer margins. Combined with the text in the cartouches of the horizontal panels, it offers praise to God, the prophet Muhammad, ‘Ali and the author of the epic. It is only on f. 2v that the 'old' preface starts with a heading. Like the frontispiece, this is finely executed and reflects Qazvin traditions of illumination. While the 'old' preface was left incomplete, the Baysunghur preface begins on f. 3v with a heading of lower quality. Whereas the frontispiece and the first heading form one group of illuminations, those four headings (ff. 12v, 90v, 158v, 231v) dividing the poem itself into four jild, and the rubrics belong to another group, where the violet is replaced by purple and black by blackish blue.
The same division can be observed in the miniatures, of which there are 50. The better ones (for instance ff. 14v, 75v, 78r) offer the same colour scheme as the first group of illuminations. The second group of miniatures is characterised by weak drawing of figures and faces, coarse treatment of landscape details, and the application of a glaring orange. Some miniatures, particularly in the second group, cover nearly the whole surface of the folio, including only a few verses or none at all (f. 111r) while leaving ample space around the figures. Compositions are simple in both groups. Not all planned miniatures were executed. Stchoukine attributes the paintings to the 1670s. However, connections to paintings of the third quarter of the 17th century are as inconclusive as to those of the second quarter.
The volume contains the text of the Shahnama only up to the end of the reign of Kay Khusrau. Since this is marked as the end of the fourth jild (without further information) it is possible that the manuscript is only the first part of a two-volume copy. The selection of subjects shows, even for the Shahnama, an unusually strong preference for single combats, at the expense of enthronements, feasts and romantic scenes.
Stchoukine, p. 92, draws a parallel with the ms. Per. 270 in the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, and suggests the painter might have been a pupil of Mu'in Musavvir. Sheila Canby, pers. comm., however, suggests it is a copy, produced in about 1620, of a manuscript of c. 1600, probably Shiraz.
I. Stchoukine, B. Flemming, P. Luft & H. Sohrweide, Illuminierte islamische Handschriften, Wiesbaden, 1971, pp. 90-92, no. 32.