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Shah Tahmasp
Tehran, Museum of Contemporary Arts (in index)
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Sample Illustration
© The Museum of Contemporary Art, Tehran.
Accession Number:
Shah Tahmasp
Title of Work:
Shahnama (Shah Tahmasp)
Gregorian Date:
1527 (to 15)
Commissioned by Shah Isma'il, continued by Shah Tahmasp; presented to the Ottoman Sultan Murad III in 1576. Ex Ottoman Royal Library, possibly Qajar Royal Library; Baron Edmond de Rothschild; 1959 Arthur A.Houghton, Jr.
Shah Tahmasp Safavi
Folios extant in ms.:
Estimated num folios in ms.:
Columns x Rows:
4 x
Page Size (h x w):
475 x 320 mm
Ms Type:
Detached manuscript folios
Ms Status:
Completion Status:
Ready to upload to website
Illuminations in ms:
Illustrations in ms:
121 ( 2 frontispiece(s) 119 Shahnama )
Illustration Records in archive:
Last updated by:
Date last updated:
2008-07-23 01:06:26
Public Notes



The most celebrated of all royal Shahnamas, perhaps started in the reign of Shah Isma'il I, c. 1522, at the time when Tahmasp returned to Tabriz from Herat. The ms. contains one date, 934/1527-8, and a couple of signatures. The last pictures were added c. 1535-40.


The bulk of this manuscript, which was broken up in 1970 by its owner, Arthur A. Houghton Jnr., is found in two collections, the Metropolitan Museum n New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran. Many other folios are scattered throughout private and public collections all over the world. The complete manuscript was studied and published in the magnificent work of Martin Dickson and Stuart Cary Welch, 1981.


Many leaves were displayed at the exhibition, 'Masterpieces of Persian painting', in Tehran, March-August 2005, and reproduced in the exhibition catalogue, pp. 231-305. See also, recently, Sheila Canby, Hunt for Paradise, pp. 80-103.


The cataloguing of this ms. and the numerous bibliographical references to it, is still in progress.


General Ref:
Dickson, M.B. & Welch, S.C. The Houghton Shahnameh. Harvard University Press. Cambridge, Mass.. USA.
General Ref:
Canby, S.R. Hunt for Paradise. Court arts of Safavid Iran 1501-1576. (ed. Thompson, J. & Canby, S.R.) Skira. Milan. Italy.
General Ref:
Hillenbrand, R. The iconography of the Shah-nama-yi Shahi. (in Safavid Persia. The history and politics of an Islamic society) (in Pembroke Papers) (ed. Melville, C.) 4 (1996) pp. 53-78 I.B. Tauris. London. UK.
Illustration Ref:
Dickson, M.B. & Welch, S.C. The Houghton Shahnameh. Fogg Art Museum. Cambridge, Mass.. USA.
Illustration in archive - 124     (back to top)
f. 002v
Illuminated title page (verso side) (1527)
f. 003r
Illuminated title page (recto side) (1527)
f. 010r
Firdausi and his book introduced to Sultan Mahmud (1527)
f. 016r
Shamsa (1527)
f. 026v
Zahhak mesmerised by Iblis, appearing as a cook (1527)
f. 031v
Zahhak hears Kava's complaint (1528)
f. 034v
Faridun and Zahhak's wiseman, Kundru (1527)
f. 035r
Faridun and Zahhak's wiseman, Kundru
f. 038v
Faridun enthroned (1525)
f. 039v
Jandal, Faridun's envoy, before the King of Yemen (1527)
f. 040v
The king of Yemen responds to Jandal
f. 041v
The King of Yemen receives Faridun's sons (1528)
f. 043v
Faridun attended by his sons and their wives (1528)
f. 044v
Salm and Tur send a message to Faridun
f. 046v
Iraj with his brothers Salm and Tur
f. 047v
The murder of Iraj (1527)
f. 049v
The head of Iraj is brought to Faridun (1527)
f. 050v
The birth of Manuchihr
f. 051v
Salm and Tur send a second message to Faridun (1528)
f. 052v
Faridun replies to the second message of Salm and Tur (1527)
f. 054v
Manuchihr leads his army to fight Salm and Tur
f. 055v
Manuchihr kills Tur in battle (1527)
f. 056v
f. 057v
Qaran captures the Alanic Fortress (1527)
f. 058v
Manuchihr kills Salm (1527)
f. 061v
The birth of Zal (1527)
f. 065v
Prince Zal is presented to Manuchihr (1527)
f. 066v
Zal enthroned (1528)
f. 068v
Zal meets Mihrab of Kabul (1527)
f. 069v
Rudaba consults her maids
f. 070v
Zal shoots fowl
f. 074v
Zal writes to Sam (1527)
f. 076v
Sindukht learns of Zal and Rudaba (1527)
f. 078v
Mihrab hears of Zal (1527)
f. 079v
Manuchihr learns about Zal and Rudaba (1527)
f. 082v
Zal goes as an envoy to Manuchihr (1527)
f. 092v
Rustam kills Zal's white elephant (1527)
f. 096v
Nauzar enthroned (1527)
f. 098v
f. 100r
Qubad discusses death before fighting Barman (1527)
f. 111v
Rustam kills Qulun (1528)
f. 112v
Rustam lifts Afrasiyab by the belt (1527)
f. 121v
Rustam's fifth labour: he lassoes Aulad (1527)
f. 122v
Rustam's sixth labour: he kills Arzhang (1527)
f. 138r
Rustam fights the Turanians (1527)
f. 141r
Suhrab chooses his horse (1527)
f. 143r
Suhrab fights Gurdafarid (1527)
f. 151v
The first combat of Rustam and Suhrab (1527)
f. 153v
Suhrab overthrows Rustam in their second combat (1527)
f. 155r
Rustam discovers Suhrab's identity (1528)
f. 156v
Rustam mourns Suhrab (1527)
f. 166r
The fire ordeal of Siyavush (1527)
f. 168v
Siyavush defeats Garsivaz (1527)
f. 170v
Afrasiyab consults the elders (1527)
f. 171v
Garsivaz brings gifts to Siyavush from Afrasiyab (1527)
f. 175v
Siyavush consults Bahram and Zanga (1527)
f. 178r
Siyavush entrusts the army to Bahram (1527)
f. 181v
Siyavush displays his archery skill before Afrasiyab (1527)
f. 188v
Piran visits Siyavushgird (1527)
f. 189v
Afrasiyab sends Garsivaz to meet Siyavush (1527)
f. 190v
Siyavush shows his skills before Garsivaz (1528)
f. 198r
Guruy executes Siyavush (1527)
f. 201r
Piran and the child Kay Khusrau before Afrasiyab (1527)
f. 206v
Human attacks Rustam to allow Afrasiyab to escape (1527)
f. 213r
Kay Khusrau and Farangis watch Giv defeat the Turanians (1527)
f. 214v
Giv captures Piran (1527)
f. 216v
Kay Khusrau crosses the Oxus with Farangis and Giv (1527)
f. 223r
Kay Khusrau receives Rustam and Zal
f. 226v
Kay Khusrau reviews his troops (1527)
f. 229v
Farud and Tukhvara view the Iranians from a mountain top (1527)
f. 232v
Farud shoots Tus's horse from under him (1527)
f. 238r
The Iranians stuck in the snowstorm (1527)
f. 239v
Bizhan pursues Tazhav, who carries Ispanay on his horse (1527)
f. 242r
Kay Khusrau hears of the combat with Farud (1527)
f. 251r
Afrasiyab sends an army to help Piran (1527)
f. 252v
Human fights Tus (1527)
f. 254v
Ruhham overcomes Bazur the Turanian wizard (1527)
f. 257v
The Iranians attack the Turanians at night (1527)
f. 261r
Piran consults the Khaqan of Chin (1527)
f. 263r
Kamus fights Giv and Tus (1527)
f. 266v
Rustam comes to aid the Iranians (1527)
f. 271r
Rustam captures and kills Kamus (1527)
f. 272v
Rustam overturns Chingish by seizing the tail of his horse (1527)
f. 274v
Rustam and Piran parley (1527)
f. 281r
Rustam kills Gahar Gahani (1527)
f. 286v
Rustam fights Kafur the Cannibal (1527)
f. 291r
Rustam overthrows Puladvand (1527)
f. 326v
Bizhan kills Human (1527)
f. 336v
Giv fights Lahhak and Farshidvard (1527)
f. 352r
Kay Khusrau saves Gustaham (1527)
f. 360v
Kay Khusrau kills Shida (1528)
f. 383v
The execution of Afrasiyab (1527)
f. 403v
Gushtasp plays polo before Caesar (1527)
f. 405v
Gushtasp kills Ilyas in combat (1527)
f. 406r
Gushtasp kills Ilyas in combat (1527)
f. 413r
Jamasp discusses the outcome of the fight with Gushtasp (1527)
f. 422r
Jamasp comes to Isfandiyar (1527)
f. 430r
Gushtasp kills Ilyas in combat (1527)
f. 432v
Isfandiyar's first labour: he fights the wolves (1528)
f. 433v
Isfandiyar's second labour: he fights the lions (1527)
f. 439v
Isfandiyar kills Gurgsar during the seventh labour (1527)
f. 442v
Isfandiyar kills Arjasp to rescue his sisters (1527)
f. 486r
Iskandar attends the dying Dara (1527)
f. 496r
Iskandar kills Fur (1527)
f. 507v
Iskandar builds a wall against Gog and Magog (1527)
f. 519r
Ardashir defeats Bahman (1527)
f. 527v
Mihrak's daughter converses with Shapur (1527)
f. 547r
Ardashir Nikukar enthroned (1527)
f. 550v
Bahram Gur hunts in the company of Azada (1527)
f. 555v
Bahram Gur, Munzir and Nu'man receive a Persian delegation at Jahrum (1527)
f. 557v
Bahram Gur fights two lions to win the throne (1527)
f. 563r
A drunken shoemaker rides on Bahram Gur's escaped lion (1527)
f. 573r
Bahram Gur hunts lions (1527)
f. 611v
Anushirvan besieges the Rumis in Aleppo (1527)
f. 615v
Nushzad gathers his army to fight Ram Barzin (1527)
f. 643v
Gav and Talhand's forces fight for a second time (1527)
f. 655v
Anushirvan replies to the mobads (1527)
f. 658v
The mobads question Hurmuzd and receive answers (1527)
f. 671v
Bahram Chubina kills the fleeing Sava Shah (1527)
f. 690v
Bahram Chubina's night attack on the camp of Khusrau Parviz (1527)
f. 698v
Caesar receives Khusrau Parviz's ambassadors (1527)
f. 702r
Kharrad Barzin investigates the weeping talisman and reveals its secret (1527)
f. 721v
Gurdiya kills Tuvurg (1527)
f. 735r
Shiruy freed from captivity (1527)