The so-called 'Big Head' Shahnama is one of the most heavily-illustrated copies of the text ever produced. It is currently divided into two main volumes; the first, in Istanbul, TIEM ms. 1978, has 202 paintings, and the second, in the Istanbul University Library, Yildiz 7954/310, has 109. There are, in addition, a still uncertain number of detached folios dispersed in collections around the world, probably around 40 altogether, and apparently all from the first volume of the text. The removal of these sheets must have occurred before 1929.
The paintings can be divided into two groups; the first are in a manner similar to other Turkoman works of the late 15th century; others mark a unique departure from contemporary models, conspicuous for the large figures with big heads, which has earned the ms. its nickname.
The dimensions given are averages for the dispersed pages noted. The sample page shown is from the Harvard folio, no. 1957.48.
This grouping of folios intends initially to put together the dispersed leaves; for the main bulk of the text, see the separate entries in Istanbul. Ultimately, we hope to be able to recreate the complete ms., which deserves its own monograph treatment.
The present order of images reflects their position in the narrative, and the numbering will change as new images are added.
See Sakisian, La miniature persane, 1929, p. 35; Grube, Hans P. Kraus collection, 1972, pp. 102-5; Robinson et al., Keir collection, 1976, pp. 159-62; Lowry & Beach, The Vever collection, 1988, pp. 89-95.