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Ms. or. fol. 3380
Berlin, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (in index)
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© Berlin, Staatsbibliotheek zu Berlin - Preussischer Kulturbesitz - Orientabteilung
Accession Number:
Ms. or. fol. 3380
Gregorian Date:
1620 (circa)
Folios extant in ms.:
Columns x Rows:
4 x 25
Page Size (h x w):
360 x 230 mm
Text Size (h x w):
219 x 138 mm
Sample Page Folio:
Ms Type:
Ms Status:
Completion Status:
Ready to upload to website
Illuminations in ms:
Illustrations in ms:
50 ( 50 Shahnama )
Illustration Records in archive:
Last updated by:
Date last updated:
2007-05-05 00:00:00
Public Notes
The manuscript was purchased by the library in 1924. It has a Qajar lacquer painted binding (without flap) decorated on the outside with bouquets and on the inside with a central medallion and pendants filled with figures and birds.

The double-page frontispiece on ff. 1v-2r contains a text in the central area surrounded by panels on all four sides and triangles reaching into the top, bottom and outer margins. Combined with the text in the cartouches of the horizontal panels, it offers praise to God, the prophet Muhammad, ‘Ali and the author of the epic. It is only on f. 2v that the 'old' preface starts with a heading. Like the frontispiece, this is finely executed and reflects Qazvin traditions of illumination. While the 'old' preface was left incomplete, the Baysunghur preface begins on f. 3v with a heading of lower quality. Whereas the frontispiece and the first heading form one group of illuminations, those four headings (ff. 12v, 90v, 158v, 231v) dividing the poem itself into four jild, and the rubrics belong to another group, where the violet is replaced by purple and black by blackish blue.

The same division can be observed in the miniatures, of which there are 50. The better ones (for instance ff. 14v, 75v, 78r) offer the same colour scheme as the first group of illuminations. The second group of miniatures is characterised by weak drawing of figures and faces, coarse treatment of landscape details, and the application of a glaring orange. Some miniatures, particularly in the second group, cover nearly the whole surface of the folio, including only a few verses or none at all (f. 111r) while leaving ample space around the figures. Compositions are simple in both groups. Not all planned miniatures were executed. Stchoukine attributes the paintings to the 1670s. However, connections to paintings of the third quarter of the 17th century are as inconclusive as to those of the second quarter.

The volume contains the text of the Shahnama only up to the end of the reign of Kay Khusrau. Since this is marked as the end of the fourth jild (without further information) it is possible that the manuscript is only the first part of a two-volume copy. The selection of subjects shows, even for the Shahnama, an unusually strong preference for single combats, at the expense of enthronements, feasts and romantic scenes.

(Karin Ruhrdanz)

Stchoukine, p. 92, draws a parallel with the ms. Per. 270 in the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, and suggests the painter might have been a pupil of Mu'in Musavvir. Sheila Canby, pers. comm., however, suggests it is a copy, produced in about 1620, of a manuscript of c. 1600, probably Shiraz.


I. Stchoukine, B. Flemming, P. Luft & H. Sohrweide, Illuminierte islamische Handschriften, Wiesbaden, 1971, pp. 90-92, no. 32.

Dating Ref:
Canby, S.R. Personal communication.
Origin Ref:
Canby, S.R. Personal communication.
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 - 50     (back to top)
sample page
f. 014v
In praise of Sultan Mahmud
f. 024r
Faridun binds Zahhak
f. 030r
The murder of Iraj
f. 034v
Manuchihr kills Tur in battle
f. 036r
Manuchihr kills Salm
f. 054r
Zal marries Rudaba
f. 064r
Afrasiyab executes Nauzar
f. 074r
Rustam's first labour: Rakhsh kills a lion
f. 075v
Rustam's third labour: he kills a dragon
f. 076r
Rustam's fourth labour: he kills the witch
f. 077r
Rustam's sixth labour: he kills Arzhang
f. 078r
Rustam's seventh labour: he kills the White Div
f. 080v
Rustam fights the Mazandarani champion Juya
f. 081v
The King of Mazandaran is executed
f. 102r
Rustam discovers Suhrab's identity
f. 111r
The fire ordeal of Siyavush
f. 133v
Guruy executes Siyavush
f. 138r
Faramarz kills Varazad
f. 139r
Faramarz captures Surkha, son of Afrasiyab
f. 139v
Zavara executes Surkha to avenge Siyavush
f. 163v
Farud retreats to his fortress and is mortally wounded by Ruhham
f. 169v
The Iranians fight Tazhav
f. 172v
Giv kills Tahzav in revenge for the death of Bahram
f. 177r
The Iranians and Turanians fight a second time
f. 178r
Ruhham overcomes Bazur the Turanian wizard
f. 189r
Rustam kills Ashkabus and his horse
f. 191r
Rustam captures and kills Kamus
f. 192v
Rustam overturns Chingish by seizing the tail of his horse
f. 198r
Rustam lifts Shangul from his saddle
f. 199r
Rustam kills Gahar Gahani
f. 200v
Rustam pulls the Khaqan of Chin from his elephant by lasso
f. 207v
Rustam overthrows Puladvand
f. 211r
Akvan Div flings Rustam into the sea
f. 212v
Rustam kills Akvan Div
f. 227v
Rustam fights Barkhiyas Div (interpolation)
f. 228v
Rustam rescues Bizhan from the pit
f. 240r
Bizhan kills Human
f. 251v
The first combat: Fariburz kills Gulbad
f. 252r
The second combat: Giv stuns Guruy Zirih
f. 252v
The third combat: Guraza kills Siyamak by throwing him to the ground
f. 253r
The fourth combat: Furuhil kills Zangala
f. 253v
The fifth combat: Ruhham kills Barman
f. 254r
The sixth combat: Bizhan kills Ruyin
f. 254v
The seventh combat: Hujir kills Sipahram with a blow of his sword
f. 255r
The eighth combat: Zanga kills Akhvasht
f. 255v
Gurgin leads away Andariman's horse
f. 256r
The tenth combat: Barta kills Kuhram
f. 257r
Gudarz mourns the dead Piran
f. 270r
Kay Khusrau throws Shida to the ground
f. 289r
The execution of Garsivaz