The ms. has an Oriental brown leather binding with a stamped border, sunk medallions, pendants and corner pieces, with remains of inlaid grey paper. Rebacked and repaired.
For the complicated history of the ms. and its different periods of illustration, see the detailed remarks of B.W. Robinson, Persian paintings in the John Rylands Library, 1980, pp. 111-15, 244-62. Cropped images of several of the illustrated folios are reproduced in b/w by Robinson.
The date recorded in the colophon (f. 265v), 1195/1781, probably belongs to the time of the replacement of several folios at the end of the volume, ff. 255-60 and 262-5 being replacements, on European paper. Robinson, p. 111, notes a watermark on f. 262; the margins of the ms., restored throughout, are also of European paper. One of the three seals noted by Robinson, in the name of 'Isa, is dated 1178/1764-5, i.e. a few years before the repair of the ms.
The ms. contains 79 illustrations in all, 4 of which are contemporary with the text (mid 15th century), 3 are rather skilful Safavid imitations of Inju style and the remainder executed in the late 16th century provincial style of Qazvin. The archaising miniatures of the 14th century show a familiarity with the work and picture format of that period, and are consistent with the layout of the text in 6 columns.
Most of the illuminations (shamsa on f. 1v; half of a double illuminated title-page on f. 2v; another half-page on f. 266r), were evidently added in the late 16th century. The double illuminated title-page on f. 6v-7r, for the start of the poem, however, appears to be contemporary with the text.
One consequence of the creation of the pictures over a century after the manuscript itself is that the subject matter of the pictures is frequently quite unusual - the original intentions for the scene to be depicted can often be surmised from the placement of the picture space in the text, but have not necessarily been followed by the later artist. Especially in the latter portion of the poem, the paintings contain scenes that are either non-canonical depictions of well-known subjects, or apparently unique. An additional clue to the dislocation between the text and the images is that the paintings often do not relate closely to the immediately surrounding text, generally depicting moments that come earlier in the poetic narrative. There is also some disturbance in the current order of the text and paintings between f. 207r and 219v.
Eleanor Sims assigns the manuscript to either Southern Iran or Western India, and a date 1430-40.