The manuscript entered the library in the first half of the 19th century. According to a stamp it once belonged to the Ottoman sultan Ahmad b. Muhammad, either Ahmad I (1603-17) or Ahmad III (1703-30).
It is bound in dark-brown leather, which is barely visible because of the stamped and gilded decoration on the outside. The decoration consists of a geometrically divided central area, panels above and beneath with two cartouches each, and a border with cartouches. While the central area and the border cartouches are filled with flowering tendrils and cloud ribbons, the cartouches in the panels contain verses in praise of the binding (jild) comparing it to paradise. The doublures are made of red-brown leather divided into a central area with a gilded filigree medallion, pendants and corner pieces on coloured ground, a border with stamped cartouches completely gilded, and an undecorated frame. The background of the central area shows stamped and gilded tendrils and cloud ribbons. The binding, which has lost its flap, is obviously of Shirazi origin and contemporary with the manuscript.
A double-page frontispiece miniature (ff. 2v-3r) represents Solomon and his court and Bilqis with her attendants. Finely drawn and rich of details this painting is of higher quality than the other illustrations. The miniature is surrounded by an illumination of c. 8 cm width filled with tendrils and cloud ribbons. Illumination continues on ff. 3v-4r including verses in praise of Firdausi and the beginning of the Baysunghur preface within a 20-pointed golden star. The dark-blue background and the golden ground of the larger decorative elements are again filled with flowering tendrils and cloud ribbons. Another double-page illumination on ff. 9v-10r contains the beginning of the epic, written in scalloped spaces left free by the golden ground - and on f. 9v a heading presenting the title of the work. The decorative paintings in gold on f. 1v and on the margins of openings containing illustrations are probably of a later date.
The 41 miniatures contained in the ms. were attributed by Stchoukine to at least seven painters working in the same atelier. It seems, however, unlikely that such a large number of artists belonged to a commercial workshop in Shiraz. The style and quality of all text illustrations are consistent. The panoramic pictures display a huge number of figures, usually not involved in secondary action but forming large groups of spectators, attendants or soldiers encircling the main actors from all sides.
Of the 38 miniatures illustrating the epic, 27 represent episodes of the legendary part (including an interpolation from the story of Jamshid and a scene from the Garshaspnama), and four belong to the interpolated Samnama (c. ff. 48-86). Whereas the massing of figures imposes on every scene the impression of a state occasion there is not even one picture of an enthronement, the standard presentation of royal glory. Before the start of the “historical” part of the Shahnama the Iranian kings are mostly absent from the scene. It is their paladins who fight the Turanians, demons and fabulous beasts.
W. Pertsch, Die Handschriftenverzeichnisse der königlichen Bibliothek zu Berlin, 4: Verzeichnis der persischen Handschriften, Berlin, 1888, pp. 736-8, no. 706.
I. Stchoukine, B. Flemming, P. Luft & H. Sohrweide, Illuminierte islamische Handschriften, Wiesbaden, 1971, pp. 53-61, no. 19.