The Shahnama here is part of a large ganjina, which entered the library in the second quarter of the 19th century. A detailed description not only of the contents but also of the complicated layout was already published by Rudiger in 1862. The volume opens with five prefaces. According to the fourth (this one in Turkish), a person called Fuzuli was responsible for the selection of the texts, compiled in 1666. The intention - as elaborated in a fifth (Persian) preface - was to assemble texts suited to fulfil the role of a good companion on a journey. The date of the compilation is corroborated there by a dedication to the Safavid Shah Safi al-Husaini (1666-94). At the end of the volume, the colophon names a certain Davud Beg as the owner.
Starting with the table of contents (ff. 8v-9r) the texts are arranged in the following way: The main division of the page is between a central area and a margin column surrounding it on three sides. Of the central area, however, only the middle part, extending over four columns (width: 150 mm; height: c. 70 mm = usually 7 lines), contains the text of the Shahnama up to the death of Afrasyab, including a smaller interpolation from the Garshaspnama, and - following the story of Suhrab - the Barzunama.
The volume has a European binding. Everywhere in the manuscript the nasta'liq writing has professional quality. It was executed, as far as Persian texts are concerned, by Maulana Murad 'Ali Tijani (?), and Maulana Ibrahim Qazvini who copied the Turkish works.
The manuscript opens with a double-page frontispiece (ff. 1v-2r), the background of which was thinly coloured with blue, green and gold, which has lost its shine and now appears as ochre. The use of gold for the tendrils and of orange for the outlining of larger decorative elements can be seen more clearly in the heading on f. 6v. Small decorative squares filled with plants, animals, arabesques or tile ornaments, are spread throughout the text and coloured paper is used for many pages.
The 167 illustrations in the ms. are concentrated on the Shahnama. The small miniatures, which (with few exceptions) cover the space of the two middle columns and were always painted directly on the paper, were executed by different hands. Whereas the Persian miniatures with their firm drawing, slightly modelled faces and clearly set off details are most probably contemporary with the copying of the text, this seems less sure of the pictures in 'Indian' style, although Stchoukine attributes them to Indian artists working in Isfahan, about the same time. Neither illustration nor illumination, including rubrics, were completed as the spaces left free in the last third of the manuscript show.
E. Rödiger, “Mittheilungen zur Handschriftenkunde 2”, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 16 (1862), pp. 227-34, no. 5.
W. Pertsch, Die Handschriftenverzeichnisse der königlichen Bibliothek zu Berlin, 4: Verzeichnis der persischen Handschriften, Berlin, 1888, pp. 60-66, no. 18.
I. Stchoukine, B. Flemming, P. Luft & H. Sohrweide, Illuminierte islamische Handschriften, Wiesbaden, 1971, pp. 93-100, no. 33.