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Ms. or. fol. 4255
Berlin, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (in index)
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© Berlin, Staatsbibliotheek zu Berlin - Preussischer Kulturbesitz - Orientabteilung
Accession Number:
Ms. or. fol. 4255
Hijri Date:
894 Rajab 19
Gregorian Date:
1489 June 26
Turkman Shiraz
Ottoman Sultan 'Abd al-Majid (1839-61).
Shams al-Din 'Ali b. Muhammad b. al-Husain al-Fakhr Din al-Fashtaqi al-Kirmani
Abu Mansuri
Folios extant in ms.:
Columns x Rows:
6 x 29
Page Size (h x w):
360 x 250 mm
Text Size (h x w):
220 x 160 mm
Colophon Folio:
Sample Page Folio:
Ms Type:
Ms Status:
Completion Status:
Ready to upload to website
Illuminations in ms:
Illustrations in ms:
87 ( 87 Shahnama )
Illustration Records in archive:
Last updated by:
Date last updated:
2016-02-02 23:17
Public Notes
This manuscript, which had been in the possession of the Ottoman sultan 'Abd al-Majid (1839-61), entered the library in 1941. Completed on 19 Rajab 894 (18 June 1489) by Shams al-Din 'Ali b. Muhammad b. al-Husain al-Fakhr-Din al-Fushtaqi al-Kirmani, the volume is in many ways a typical product of the Shirazi workshops in the Turkman period. It is bound in dark-brown leather, decorated on the outside with stamped medallion, pendants and corner pieces filled with tendrils and birds and painted in gold. The doublures are made of light-brown leather with gilded filigree medallion, pendants and corner pieces over a blue ground. On both sides of the flap the corresponding sector of the decoration is exactly repeated.

The dominant blue background of the heading of the 'old' preface (f. 1v) and the double-page frontispiece (ff. 5v-6r) as well as their golden cartouches are filled with finely executed, sparsely coloured arabesques and flowers. Rubrics are written in gold directly on the paper and surrounded by the same kind of tendrils. The miniatures regularly spreading over the width of the four middle columns are most probably all by one artist, a well-versed representative of Turkman commercial painting.

What gives a special quality to the manuscript is its model. It makes itself felt in various respects. According to Khaleghi-Motlagh, the calligrapher must have had at his disposal an old and well preserved text of the poem. How closely he followed it one can also learn from the style of writing, the arrangement of the text in six columns, and the number of illustrations. With 87 miniatures, Ms. or. fol. 4255 is so far the most densely illustrated Turkman Shahnama. The proportion of illustrations (about one third) assigned to the 'historical' part of the epic is in accordance with Shirazi production of the Inju period, and the depiction of all 12 rukhs also points to the earlier model. However, the selection of subjects is obviously also under the impact of Shirazi Shahnama illustration since the 1440s.

Although the Turkman style with its simple arrangements, stock figures and faces, and stereotype landscape backgrounds is not a fertile ground for amazing compositions, some visual ideas are quite unusual (20v, 85v, 169r, 181r, 248v). Much emphasis is placed on details of the man-made environment, like the coloured turbans of men, the striped garment of women and their painted hands, the figures on blue-and-white porcelain, and the tile-work of palace architecture. The golden decoration on clothes always contains the same Chinese-looking but not clearly defined ornament. Combined with the strong but balanced colours this creates the impression of highly decorative paintings.

The fact that the overall execution of the manuscript ranks above the average quality of Shirazi Turkman work may be the result of a special commission. In the colophon (f. 317v) the (so far not identified) owner of the Shahnama is called shahryar Khwaja Karim al-Daula ... Hasan b. Khwaja 'Ala al-Daula wa'l-Dunya Muhammad al-Fakhrabadi al-Ramjirdi.

(Karin Rührdanz)


I. Stchoukine, B. Flemming, P. Luft & H. Sohrweide, Illuminierte islamische Handschriften, Wiesbaden, 1971, pp. 39-46, no. 10.

J. Khaliqi-Mutlaq, "Mu’arrifi va arz-yabi-yi barkhi az dastnavishta-yi Shahnama", Irannama 3 (1364/1985), p. 405, no. 29.

The manuscript contains three Ottoman seal types, one of which (f. 8r) is that of Sultan Ahmad III 1703-30).

Dating Ref:
Colophon Extracted from the colophon of the work.
Origin Ref:
Stchoukine, I. et al. Illuminierte Islamische Handschriften. (in Orientalische Handschriften in Deutschland) 16 (1971) Franz Steiner Verlag GMBH. Wiesbaden. Germany.
Illustration Ref:
Stchoukine, I. et al. Illuminierte Islamische Handschriften. (in Orientalische Handschriften in Deutschland) 16 (1971) Franz Steiner Verlag GMBH. Wiesbaden. Germany.
Illustration in archive - 88     (back to top)
sample page
f. 003v
Firdausi and the poets of Ghazna (1489)
f. 009r
Zahhak enthroned (1489)
f. 012r
Faridun defeats Zahhak (1489)
f. 012v
Faridun enthroned (1489)
f. 013v
The King of Yemen receives Faridun's sons (1489)
f. 015v
The murder of Iraj (1489)
f. 020v
The Simurgh bids farewell to Sam's son (1489)
f. 023r
Zal by Rudaba's castle (1489)
f. 027r
Sam receives Sindukht as envoy from the King of Kabul (1489)
f. 029r
Zal marries Rudaba (1489)
f. 029v
The birth of Rustam (1489)
f. 038r
Rustam's first labour: Rakhsh kills a lion (1489)
f. 039v
Rustam's seventh labour: he kills the White Div (1489)
f. 044r
Kay Kavus airborne (1489)
f. 046v
Tahmina visits Rustam's chamber (1489)
f. 049v
Rustam knocks down Tus in the presence of Kay Kavus (1489)
f. 053r
Rustam discovers Suhrab's identity (1489)
f. 058r
The fire ordeal of Siyavush (1489)
f. 065r
Siyavush marries Farangis (1489)
f. 070r
Guruy executes Siyavush (1489)
f. 072v
Faramarz captures Surkha, son of Afrasiyab (1489)
f. 075v
Giv finds Kay Khusrau in Turan (1489)
f. 076v
Kay Khusrau and Farangis watch Giv defeat the Turanians (1489)
f. 080v
Kay Khusrau receives Rustam and Zal (1489)
f. 085v
The death of Farud (1489)
f. 097v
Rustam comes to aid the Iranians (1489)
f. 098v
Rustam kills Ashkabus and his horse (1489)
f. 104r
Rustam pulls the Khaqan of Chin from his elephant by lasso (1489)
f. 109v
Akvan Div flings Rustam into the sea (1489)
f. 117r
Rustam rescues Bizhan from the pit (1489)
f. 123r
Bizhan kills Human (1489)
f. 126r
The eleventh combat: Gudarz kills Piran (1489)
f. 129r
The fourth combat: Furuhil fights Zangala (1489)
f. 129vA
The fifth combat: Ruhham kills Barman (1489)
f. 129vB
The sixth combat: Bizhan kills Ruyin (1489)
f. 129vC
The seventh combat: Hujir kills Sipahram with a blow of his sword (1489)
f. 130rA
The second combat: Giv stuns Guruy Zirih (1489)
f. 130rB
Guraza binds Siyamak onto his horse and leads him away (1489)
f. 130rC
The eighth combat: Zanga kills Akhvasht (1489)
f. 130vA
The ninth combat: Gurgin kills Andariman (1489)
f. 130vB
Barta returns with the body of Kuhram (1489)
f. 138r
Kay Khusrau throws Shida to the ground (1489)
f. 145v
Kay Khusrau sends messages to the Faghfur of Chin and the King of Makran (1489)
f. 146r
Kay Khusrau crosses Lake Zara (1489)
f. 148r
Hum captures Afrasiyab (1489)
f. 149r
The execution of Afrasiyab (1489)
f. 150r
Zal and Rustam advise Kay Khusrau (1489)
f. 155v
Gushtasp kills a wolf in Rum (1489)
f. 162v
Isfandiyar kills Bidarafsh (1489)
f. 168r
Isfandiyar's first labour: he fights the wolves (1489)
f. 168v
Isfandiyar's second labour: he fights the lions (1489)
f. 169r
Isfandiyar's third labour: he fights the dragon (1489)
f. 169vA
Isfandiyar's fifth labour: he kills the Simurgh (1489)
f. 169vB
Isfandiyar's fifth labour: he kills the Simurgh (1489)
f. 169vB
Isfandiyar's fourth labour: he kills the sorceress (1489)
f. 175v
Rustam kicks aside the rock pushed by Bahman (1489)
f. 181r
The Simurgh healing Rakhsh's wounds (1489)
f. 181v
Rustam shoots Isfandiyar in the eyes with a double-pointed arrow (1489)
f. 183v
Isfandiyar mourned (1489)
f. 185r
Rustam kills Shaghad before dying (1489)
f. 191v
Iskandar attends the dying Dara (1489)
f. 197v
Iskandar with Queen Qaydafa and her court (1489)
f. 201v
Iskandar and the talking tree (1489)
f. 208v
Ardashir Babakan enthroned (1489)
f. 215v
Shapur goes to the court of Caesar (1489)
f. 220r
Bahram Gur's mount tramples Azada (1489)
f. 221r
A sea monster kills Yazdagird (1489)
f. 223r
Bahram Gur enthroned (1489)
f. 228r
Bahram Gur hunts lions (1489)
f. 230v
Bahram Gur hunts lions (1489)
f. 235v
Shangul entertains Bahram Gur (1489)
f. 243r
Mazdak discusses his philosophy before Qubad (1489)
f. 248r
Anushirvan sacks the fortress of Arayish-i Rum (1489)
f. 250v
Anushirvan finds a young man in his harem (1489)
f. 257v
Mihran Sitad asks the Khaqan to give his daughter to Anushirvan as a wife (1489)
f. 260v
Buzurjmihr demonstrates how to play the game of chess (1489)
f. 263v
Gav and Talhand's forces fight for a second time (1489)
f. 269v
The mobads question Hurmuzd and receive answers (1489)
f. 271r
Hurmuzd enthroned (1489)
f. 276r
Bahram Chubina sends Sava Shah's head to Hurmuzd (1489)
f. 279r
Bahram Chubina wears the woman's clothes sent by Hurmuzd (1489)
f. 285v
Bahram Chubina's night attack on the camp of Khusrau Parviz (1489)
f. 293v
Bahram Chubina and Khusrau fight on a mountain (1489)
f. 296v
Bahram Chubina kills the monkey-lion (1489)
f. 304v
The musician Barbad plays for Khusrau Parviz (1489)
f. 309v
Mihr Hurmuzd murders Khusrau Parviz (1489)
f. 315v
The miller assassinates Yazdagird (1489)
f. 317r
Bizhan kills Mahuy to avenge Yazdagird (1489)