FIRDAUSI'S SHAHNAMA (BOOK OF KINGS)

MS 5323
MS Short Title FIRDAUSI'S SHAHNAMA (BOOK OF KINGS)
Text FIRDAUSI: SHAHNAMA, THE BOOK OF KINGS
Description MS in Persian on paper, Kashmir, 18th ca., 293 ff. (-ca. 10), 32x20 cm, 4 columns, (27x14 cm), 25 lines of Nasta’liq script, headings in red over 2 columns, margins ruled in black and colours, 3 illuminated headpieces, 16 large miniatures in colours.
Binding Kashmir, 18th c. red morocco, sewn on 4 cords.
Context

The present ms constitute the first 2 volumes, including all of the mythical and heroic ages, of a complete version in 3 volumes. The 3rd volume would have included the historical age from Alexander the Great to 651.

Most 16th-17th c. mss are truncated versions, comprising only about half of the complete work, ending either with Alexander the Great (323 BC), or with Queen Humay, but with additional texts.

The complete work has 62 stories, 990 chapters and nearly 60,000 rhyming couplets, spanning about 4000 years. According to Firdausi the final edition contained some 60,000 verses, while the most complete and reliable mss surviving have no more than a little over 50,000 verses.

Provenance 1. Sam Fogg, London.
Commentary

The Shahnama or Shah-nameh, the Book of Kings, is the Persian national epic. It was completed in 1010, based on earlier prose versions, particularly a Pahlavi (middle Persian) work, the Khavatay-namak, with the history of Persia from the dawn of history (King Gayumarth) up to Khusru II (590-628). Daqiqi added some 1000 verses which deal with the rise of Zoroastrianism up to the Arabic conquest and the fall of the last Sassanian king in 651.

Firdausi (Ferdowsi/Firdawsi/Firdusi/Firdousi) was a pseudonym for Ol-Qasem Mansur (ca. 935-1020). The Persians regard Firdausi as the greatest of their poets.

The miniatures start with the Court of King Gayumarth, the majority dealing with Rustam’s adventures, and ending with Bizhan in battle.

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Place of origin Kashmir
Dates 18c AD

Location