627 folios; 340 x 220 mm, written area 220 x130 mm, 23 lines, 4 columns, margins (62 mm - top and bottom, 74 mm side).
Colophon (f. 627r) is rather informative: The calligrapher is Sultan Husain b. Sultan ‘Ali b. Aslanshah al-Katib [ghulam-i shah, or Ghulam Shah] on 14 Ramazan 866.
The text is in small neat nasta'liq in Indian ink, headings in gold or blue in the cartouches, filled in with herbal design with gold, turquoise and orange details.
Condition is good, the copy probably preserves almost its original size: the coustods are far from the cut edge. The cut edge is decorated in the same manner and palette as the inner covers of the binding. However it suffered quite significantly from water: the stains are spread all over the manuscript, but cover most of the marginal space. Folio 60 is replaced by a new one with the illustration in Indian style which was recycled: it is in fact a collage made of two different pictures: one is Rudaba giving birth to Rustam and Simurgh descending from the sky. Rudaba’s head is cut off.
The paper is thick, Oriental, of high quality, glossy and creamy, but heavily water stained along the margins and the edge.
The binding went through a serious restoration, partly unprofessional. The outer sides of the binding bear the original covers, made in the manner traditional for the 15-17th century: of leather mounted on thick cardboards with deeply stamped triple medallions in the centre and triangle corners. The big medallion in the middle is of almond shape, two side ones (on top and bottom) are lotus-like, they, together with the corners are decorated with floral ornament and covered with gold. Now the rest of the cover is painted light green with a brush. The binding in general is European, with an emerald green frame with stamped neat ornament in gold and a light brown edge with the 5 thread divisions, decorated with floral ornament (bouquets of stylized sunflowers and thistle) and an inscription in gold over the title ‘Shahnameh’ in red. In the upper section of the edge there is an image (stamped in gold) of a rhinoceros with a little tree on its back.
The inner sides (doublures) are covers with the peacock tail design in red, blue, green, yellow and white.
Provenance: on the inner side of the back cover an ex libris label is attached with the family emblem of Ouseley: two knights holding the heraldic shield (one with the spear, one with the sheep headed mace) and the inscription below: The right honorable Sir Gore Ouseley baronet Grand cordon of the Persian order of Lion and Sun and Grand Cross of the Imperial Russian order of Saint Alexander Newski. The inner side of the front cover contains the same ex libris, but it was added [by hand of Ouseley?]: and Grand Cross of the Hanoverian order of the Guelph.
There are several imprints of the owners’ seals (f.1r), which are hardly readable; two imprints are severely washed out. several interpretations of the seals are still legible, even one of them is partly washed out. They contain dates 17 Shawwal 1072 (and the name Mubariz Shah 'Ali Muhammad …), 1084 (?) and 3 Jumadi I, 1091. The date 25 Rajab 1073 accompanies the inscription about the library, where it was acquired, but the name of the library is washed out – the name of the librarian is still there (need picture). There is also a very faded pencil inscription in Latin … (?) Mqv Solynaan and underneath 52 illustrations (in the centre) and in ink in Ouseley’s hand: transcribed A.H. 899 by Sultan Hussein the son of Sultan Ali. Also 2500 Rs (in the left upper corner).
Fol. 3r contained an owner's seal, which was scratched out.
On the inner side of the front cover there is a small label ‘Mostra d’Arte Persiana n. 49 ISMEO-Roma, 1956’: probably the year when the ms was sent to an exhibition.
Date and attribution: 899/1494
Text seems to be a full copy. The prose introduction (3v-9r) starts on f.3v.
Incipit: sipas-u afarin-i khuday-ra jalla jalalahu...
The satire on Mahmud contains 42 bayts (ff. 6r-v).
The incipit of the poem (f.9v) is standard: ba nam-i khudavand-i jan-u khirad...
Explicit (f. 627r):
Hami ta bud ruz-u shab-u tar-u pud
Zi ma bar ravan-i Muhammad durud
The last title (f. 626v): Andar khatm-i kitab-i Shahnama.
ff.1v-2r - both pages contain quite big (200 x 110 mm) identical almond shape decorations (shamsa) with lotus-like rosettes on top and bottom in ultramarine blue and gold of two kinds (shiny and matt) with details in polychrome. They would produce an impression of being shamsas, but they do not carry any information inside, and they are not even designed for any inscription.
Ff.2v-3r - frontispiece, representing the royal reception in the garden. The right side of the double page composition, represents a king, sitting on his throne under a tent in the shadow of two blossoming trees (in the top part of the miniature). There is a stream running in front of him. It can be a garden, or just mountainous plain air scene. The courtiers, sitting on their carpets around the king, watching the perfomance of a girl dancing in the bottom part to the accompaniment of the female ensemble (two other girls), playing different musical instruments (harp and tambourine). Interesting: left side of the composition seems to contain the continuation of the reception scene with one more group of musicians – this time male: three men playing a harp, tambourine and a setar. Both sides contain a stream crossing the picture, however, these two parts of the stream do not correspond each other’s direction.
The left side of the double page composition represents courtiers of different ranks (but lower than those on the opposite page around the king) and professions watching the king on the opposite page: they stand and sit in groups under the trees and along the stream: hunters with falcons, arrows and bows, musicians with different musical instruments, grooms with horses, cooks and servants with dishes and bowls, gardeners with spades.
The trees are blossoming cherries and cypresses; sky is locally gold with a white Chinese cloud.
The details of the painting are very neat (vegetation, ornaments of courtiers dresses, tents and carpets), the palette is very rich. However the condition is not excellent. Some paints, especially the green of the ground and the red, have peeled out, due to the wet.
Both paintings are surrounded by a wide frame (22 mm) in bright ultramarine blue with arabesque ornament of gold rosettes and polychrome details in orange, light blue, green and black. Some pigments peeled out.
The beginning of the prose introduction (incipit: sipas-u afarin khuday-ra…) is represented as a magnificent double page sarlauh, where the wide frames of arabesque ornament in blue, shiny and matt gold and polychrome (259 x 152 mm) surround rather small cartouches with the text (65 x 68 mm). The interlinear spaces of text in the cartouches are filled in with gold clouds with floral ornament. Suffered from wet.
Prose introduction (3v-8r) with rather short satire (42 bayts). List of kings is on ff. 8v-9r.
There is a miniature (f. 7r), illustrating the prose preface, where there is a king in the garden, sitting on a carpet together with two poets. One is sitting on the grass before them. Two other figures are definitely not poets, but servants: one is serving wine, another is black, holding the manuscript.
NB: it is not clear why Robinson called the painting “The presentation to Baysanghur Mirza the completed version of his recension of the Shahnama".
The unvan, starting the poem (f. 9v) is comparatively modest in size (115 x 130 mm), but of very high quality of composition and execution (in ultramarine blue, gold of two types – shiny and matt – and polychrome) and very good condition, despite some water stains on top. The shape is formed of a rectangular base and a semicircular top with rays of blue outlined lace coming to the margins.
One of the favourite decorations of the calligrapher is a design of diagonals with illuminated triangles, which can accompany either a page with a miniature, or be on their own (for example ff. 618v-627r are written in such style with only one miniature on f. 626r).
The miniatures were most probably executed by one artist, who had his obvious preferences in depicting some particular details both in the interior (blue tiled walls and curtains on the window bound in some special knot). To depict the exterior scenes he used the technique of the ‘sea weed-like’ (a la Muhammad Juki copy) treatment of rocks and hill edges, with usual white or blue Chinese clouds over gold sky, or gold outlined clouds over blue sky, very neatly depicted details of the horses' armour, fthe oreground in several layers of colour, and small wreaths of flowers on the pastel green, pink, or lilac grass.
Fol. 348r – very strange Rustam kicking Bahman’s rock – horse drinking the water from the stream – bad composition, green – oxidized, dirty tint.
Fol. 366v – death of Rustam – retouched significantly, especially the faces.
Robinson notes that in a number of cases, faces have been clumsily repainted in India in recent times.
The ms is used for b/w and cropped illustrations in Robinson 2002.
Some illustrations (i.e. f. 30v – murder of Iraj) are accompanied by a verse from Jones’ translation in Ouseley’s hand on the margin.
There is some water damage, and there was an attempt to insert paper in between the folios to absorb the wet: one of those ‘protection’ sheets had calligraphy, which reflected on the paper (f. 34r).
Condition: water stained throughout the whole manuscript from the spine to the top and bottom edges.
NB: check why Farhad indicates that there is one miniature not belonging to the Shahnama.