Shahnama Project : Shahnama

Firdausi

Shahnama Project

<p style='text-align: justify;'><p>According to a stamp on f. 1r the manuscript once belonged to the library of Sultan 'Uthman b. Mustafa (1754-7). It entered the collection in 1817 as part of the Diez bequest.The manuscript has a binding of Shirazi type made from dark brown leather (without flap). Outer and inner surfaces are identically structured: a central area with medallion, pendants and corner pieces surrounded by two borders filled with cartouches - and completely gilded or covered by leather filigree on coloured backgrounds. On the outsides of the covers, stamped and gilded decoration consisting of flowered tendrils and cloud ribbons dominates. Only the inner border has coloured decoration. Contrastingly, on the doublures, gilded leather filigree over red, blue or green backgrounds is used for most decorative units. The double-page frontispiece (ff. 1v-2r) and the heading at the beginning of the poem (f. 18v) are typical Shirazi work as well. This, however, cannot be said about the illustrations. In particular, those attributed to painter 1 by Stchoukine have much more in common with the Qazvin style of about 1590. The inferior work - most likely the work of one artist - also relates to Qazvin painting. Where this complex work was produced remains an open question. Since another manuscript copied by Yusuf b. Husain b. Yusuf (katib Jahrumi) with Shiraz style miniatures was already completed in 1571 it is not of much help in fixing the place of origin of the Shahnama. Both painters use the same range of strong colours. Concerning their balance, the drawing of figures, faces and landscape details, and the evoking of the illusion of space, painter 1 is clearly the better artist. His interior architecture, however, displays the same flat ornamented surfaces as does the work of the second painter.The volume has the Baysunghur preface and contains two large interpolations, the Barzunama (beginning on f. 293r) and the Bahmannama (beginning on f. 485r). 23 of the 31 miniatures are assigned to the first part of the Shahnama and the interpolations it includes. While the Shahnama illustrations are dedicated to well-known episodes, for the interpolations several unusual subjects were selected. Probably, the people involved in the production of the manuscript had little experience illustrating the interpolated texts. The second artist in particular may have kept to the notes that in some cases are preserved at the top of the upper margin (see e.g. f. 481r) . (Karin Ruhrdanz)Bibliography:W. Pertsch, Die Handschriftenverzeichnisse der königlichen Bibliothek zu Berlin, 4: Verzeichnis der persischen Handschriften, Berlin, 1888, 734-5, no. 703.I. Stchoukine, B. Flemming, P. Luft, & H. Sohrweide, Illuminierte islamische Handschriften, Wiesbaden, 1971, 73-7, no. 26.</p></p>


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