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Ms 22-1948
Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum (in index)
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© The Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge
Accession Number:
Ms 22-1948
Title of Work:
Shahnama (c. 1435)
Gregorian Date:
Bequethed by P.C.Mamuk and Miss G.M.Coles through the National Art Collections Fund.
Folios extant in ms.:
Columns x Rows:
4 x 23
Page Size (h x w):
246 x 172 mm
Text Size (h x w):
178 x 114 mm
Sample Page Folio:
Ms Type:
Ms Status:
Completion Status:
Ready to upload to website
Illuminations in ms:
Illustrations in ms:
25 ( 1 frontispiece(s) 24 Shahnama )
Illustration Records in archive:
Last updated by:
Date last updated:
2010-02-08 16:12
Public Notes

The MS contains a fragment of the poem from the beginning until the story of Gushtasp, quite incomplete. Actually it is a collection of paintings, restored and remargined in Europe with some text left in between them:

ff. 1v-8r: prose introduction; f. 8r was added later by another hand; ff. 5v  onwards, contains the satire on Mahmud.

Inc: Aya shah-i Mahmud-i kishvar-gushay...

Exc: V-az ruju'- khuld-ash...

Several images are reproduced in Stchoukine, who notes (p. 43) that 26 (sic.) illustrations from this incomplete ms. are in Cambridge and five others are in the British Museum (no. 1948-10-9-48 to 52), q.v.  He considers only the earliest to be original. After f. 29v, he thinks they are of 16th-17th century, and poorly executed, perhaps in Shiraz c. 1430. Later writers (Wormald, Titley, Sims) prefer c. 1435, the date retained here. Stchoukine also refers to the crude palette and the effect based on contrast.

NB the pictures are clearly out of sequence, and need to be re-ordered; the numbers found on many of them, and on the British Museum pictures from the same ms., allow this with some confidence, as well as the textual evidence.

Almost all the pages are badly wormed, and the ms. is in such fragile condition that it has been withdrawn from use (as at July 2008). inappropriate earlier repairs with paper patches and self-adhesive tape have contributed to the damage. All the folios have been trimmed and inlaid into a modern laid paper that has caused additional stress.

Exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1951-2, no. 13 and in 1967, no. 120 (a).

Project Notes
Now being restored and for display in Shahnama exhibition.
General Ref:
Sims, E. The illustrated manuscripts of Firdausi's Shahnama commissioned by princes of the house of Timur. (in Ars Orientalis) 22 (1993) pp. 43-68
General Ref:
Titley, N.M. Miniatures from Persian manuscripts. Catalogue and subject index of paintings from Persia, India and Turkey in the British Library and British Museum. London. UK.
Dating Ref:
Wormald, F. & Giles P.M. A descriptive catalogue of the additional illuminated manuscripts in the Fitzwilliam Museum acquired between 1895 and 1979. 1 pp. 301-302 Cambridge. UK.
Origin Ref:
Stchoukine, I. Les peintures des manuscrits Timurides. Paris. France.
Illustration Ref:
Stchoukine, I. Les peintures des manuscrits Timurides. Paris. France.
Illustration in archive - 28     (back to top)
sample page
f. 001r
Shamsa (1435)
f. 006r
Firdausi and the poets of Ghazna (1435)
f. 008v
Illuminated title page (verso side) (1435)
f. 010v
Kayumars enthroned (1435)
f. 011v
Jamshid enthroned, carried by Divs (1435)
f. 012v
Faridun fords the Dijla on the way to fight Zahhak (1435)
f. 013v
Zahhak brought before Faridun (1435)
f. 014v
The murder of Iraj (1435)
f. 015v
Manuchihr kills Tur in battle (1435)
f. 016v
Gurdiya tells Khusrau Parviz of her achievements (1435)
f. 017v
Rustam shoots Isfandiyar in the eyes with a double-pointed arrow (1435)
f. 018v
Iskandar visits the Ka'ba (1435)
f. 019v
Ardashir recognizes Shapur during a polo game (1435)
f. 020v
Bahram Chubina sends Sava Shah's head to Hurmuzd (1435)
f. 021v
The angel Surush rescues Khusrau Parviz (1435)
f. 022v
Rustam lifts Afrasiyab by the belt (1435)
f. 023v
Rustam's seventh labour: he kills the White Div (1435)
f. 024r
Illuminated page (1435)
f. 025v
Kay Kavus airborne (1435)
f. 026v
The fire ordeal of Siyavush (1435)
f. 027v
Guruy executes Siyavush (1435)
f. 028v
Faramarz captures Surkha, son of Afrasiyab (1435)
f. 029v
Rustam pulls the Khaqan of Chin from his elephant by lasso (1435)
f. 030v
Rustam sends a letter to Kay Khusrau (1435)
f. 031v
Rustam kills Akvan Div (1435)
f. 032v
Gudarz mourns the dead Piran (1435)
f. 033v
Kay Khusrau crosses Lake Zara (1435)
f. 034v
Gushtasp kills a dragon in Rum (1435)