Islamic Manuscripts : Shāhnāmah

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Islamic Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'> A richly illuminated and almost complete copy of the Shahnamah with less than a page missing of its prose introduction, probably copied in the 16th/17th Century C.E. The drop-shaped <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(11);return false;'>Golkonda seal</a> on the first page appears to be that of Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, Sultan of Golkunda, 1565-1612 with the date 1012 [1603/4 C.E.] and a later inscription dated 1091 [1610/11 C.E.]. There is no indication of when the manuscript was completed and no mention of its place of production. The <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(11);return false;'>ex libris</a> on the first page is signed by Chas Wilkins, librarian of the East India Company with the date 15th August 1806, which indicates the manuscript's provenance.<br /> <br /> The double page frontispiece depicting <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(12);return false;'>Sulayman enthroned</a> and <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(13);return false;'>Bilqis enthroned</a> is followed by a luxuriously executed double page illumination in gold and polychrome <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(14);return false;'>[2v, 3r]</a>, which ornates the beginning of the introduction and also includes an <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(14);return false;'> ex libris of a royal library</a>. The following eleven miniatures found in the text suggest an unusual choice of scenes and depict in order of their appearance: <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(47);return false;'>Kayumars enthroned</a>, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(213);return false;'>Guruy executing Siyavusha</a>, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(263);return false;'>Kay Khusrau appointing Tus to lead an expedition to Turan</a>, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(318);return false;'>Kamus fighting Giv and Tus</a>, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(366);return false;'>a full scale battle between the armies of Iran and Turan</a>, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(448);return false;'>Rustam rescuing Bizhan from the pit</a>, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(559);return false;'>Luhrasp enthroned</a>, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(613);return false;'>Isfandiyar's second labour: fighting the lions</a>, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(683);return false;'>Rustam killing Shaghad before dying</a> and <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(855);return false;'>Bahram Gur killing a dragon in India</a>.<br /> <br /> The manuscript is bound in multi-coloured leather with gilded medallions and ornations on the <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(1);return false;'>front</a> and <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(1139);return false;'>back</a> cover and on the <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(1140);return false;'>flap</a>. </p> <p style='text-align: justify;'> This item is included in the Library’s 600th anniversary exhibition <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href='https://exhibitions.lib.cam.ac.uk/linesofthought/artifacts/shahnamah/'><i>Lines of Thought: Discoveries that changed the world</i></a> which runs until 30 September 2016. </p>


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