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Ryl Pers 933
Manchester, John Rylands University Library of Manchester (in index)
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© The John Rylands University Library, The University of Manchester
Accession Number:
Ryl Pers 933
Gregorian Date:
15th century (middle)
Western India
From G.A. Nichetti of Venice, purchased in Tehran.
"Az'af al-'Ibad"
Folios extant in ms.:
Columns x Rows:
6 x 31
Page Size (h x w):
400 x 292 mm
Text Size (h x w):
267 x 197 mm
Colophon Folio:
Ms Type:
Ms Status:
Completion Status:
Ready to upload to website
Illuminations in ms:
Illustrations in ms:
79 ( 79 Shahnama )
Illustration Records in archive:
Last updated by:
Date last updated:
2013-10-15 14:24
Public Notes
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.


General Ref:
Sims, E. The illustrated manuscripts of Firdausi's Shahnama commissioned by princes of the house of Timur. (in Ars Orientalis) 22 (1993) pp. 43-68
General Ref:
Norgren, J. & Davis, E. Preliminary index of Shah-nameh illustrations. University of Michigan. Ann Arbor. USA.
Dating Ref:
Robinson, B.W. Persian Paintings in the John Rylands Library A Descriptive Catalogue. Sotheby Parke Bernet. London. UK.
Origin Ref:
Robinson, B.W. Persian Paintings in the John Rylands Library A Descriptive Catalogue. Sotheby Parke Bernet. London. UK.
Illustration Ref:
Robinson, B.W. Persian Paintings in the John Rylands Library A Descriptive Catalogue. Sotheby Parke Bernet. London. UK.
Illustration in archive - 120     (back to top)
f. 010v
Iraj with his brothers Salm and Tur
f. 013v
Manuchihr kills Salm
f. 015r
The Simurgh bids farewell to Sam's son (1430)
f. 020r
Sam before Manuchihr (1430)
f. 023v
The birth of Rustam (1430)
f. 025v
Suhrab overthrows Rustam in their second combat
f. 026v
Rustam laments for the dying Suhrab (1430)
f. 030v
Rustam camps in a field and gets into a fight with the watchman (1430)
f. 031v
Rustam's seventh labour: he kills the White Div (1430)
f. 034v
A div tempts Kay Kavus (1430)
f. 037r
Tahmina visits Rustam's chamber
f. 043v
The fire ordeal of Siyavush
f. 046r
Rustam delivers Siyavush's letter to Kay Kavus
f. 048v
Siyavush plays polo before Afrasiyab (1430)
f. 052r
Garsivaz with Siyavush (1430)
f. 053v
Siyavush taken prisoner before Afrasiyab (1430)
f. 057r
Rustam kills Pilsam (1430)
f. 061r
Kay Khusrau crosses the Oxus with Farangis and Giv
f. 063r
Kay Khusrau goes hunting after his accession
f. 066r
Farud and Bahram parley
f. 068r
Tus's army pillages Farud's castle
f. 070v
Bizhan takes Kava's standard from Fariburz (1430)
f. 073v
Human fights Tus
f. 076r
Piran consults the Khaqan of Chin
f. 078r
Rustam kills Ashkabus and his horse
f. 081r
Rustam confers with his army
f. 083r
Rustam pulls the Khaqan of Chin from his elephant by lasso
f. 086r
The Iranians call Rustam to battle against Shangul
f. 087v
Akvan Div flings Rustam into the sea
f. 091r
Giv takes Kay Khusrau's letter to Rustam
f. 095r
Human seeks Piran's permission to fight (1430)
f. 097r
Bizhan fights with Human
f. 100r
Piran receives a reply from Gudarz
f. 107v
Afrasiyab sends his son Shida to Kay Khusrau (1430)
f. 112v
Kay Kavus and Kay Khusrau come to Hum
f. 115v
Zal asks Kay Khusrau for a legacy to Rustam
f. 118v
Gushtasp seeks work in Rum with the smith Burab (1430)
f. 119v
Gushtasp kills a wolf in Rum
f. 120v
Gushtasp kills a dragon in Rum
f. 126r
Nastur challenges the Turanians
f. 130v
Isfandiyar's second labour: he fights the lions
f. 131r
Isfandiyar's third labour: he fights the dragon
f. 132v
Isfandiyar in consultation with Gurgsar
f. 134v
The battle between the forces of Isfandiyar and Kuhram
f. 137r
Rustam kicks aside the rock pushed by Bahman
f. 139v
Rustam boasts about his strength
f. 143v
Rustam shoots Isfandiyar in the eyes with a double-pointed arrow
f. 146r
Rustam kills Shaghad before dying
f. 149r
Rashnavad finds Darab asleep by a ruined castle
f. 152v
The third battle between the armies of Iskandar and Dara
f. 156r
Iskandar kills Fur
f. 159v
Iskandar and the sage Khizr seek the Fountain of Life
f. 160v
Iskandar and the talking tree
f. 164r
Ardavan disgraces Ardashir in their dispute over game
f. 167r
Ardashir views Haftvad's castle
f. 171v
The battle between the armies of Shapur and Rum
f. 177r
Bahram Gur hunts in the company of Azada
f. 178v
A sea monster kills Yazdagird
f. 181v
Bahram Gur rests in the vestibule of Baraham
f. 184r
Bahram Gur with Barzin's daughters
f. 188r
Bahram Gur helps the landlord's cow to produce milk again
f. 191v
Bahram Gur wrestles before Shangul
f. 196r
Balash gives advice to the Iranians
f. 200v
Anushirvan displays his prowess before Babak
f. 204v
Piruz Shir advises Nushzad not to rebel against Anushirvan
f. 207r
Gav and Talhand's forces fight for a second time
f. 211r
Anushirvan selects horses to go to the hunting ground
f. 215v
Anushirvan's fifth majlis for Buzurjmihr
f. 219v
Buzurjmihr advises Anushirvan
f. 223r
Hurmuzd enthroned
f. 227v
Bahram Chubina defeats the army of Sava Shah
f. 232r
Ayin Gushasp's head is brought before Bahram Chubina by his murderer
f. 235v
Bahram Chubina's night attack on the camp of Khusrau Parviz
f. 238v
Khusrau Parviz hears from the monk again
f. 242v
The war between the generals of Khusrau Parviz and Bahram Chubina
f. 246r
Bahram Chubina kills the monkey-lion
f. 247v
The captive Qulun mortally wounds Bahram Chubina
f. 252r
Shirin greets Khusrau Parviz returning from the hunt
f. 261v
Sa'd-i Vaqqas kills Rustam