view archive:
Big Head
dispersed mss
, Dispersed mss (in index)
Click the boxes to tag/un-tag this page in a workbook

Sample Page
Accession Number:
Big Head
Title of Work:
Shahnama (Big Head)
Hijri Date:
Gregorian Date:
1493 (to nearest hijri year)
Gilan (Lahijan)
Sultan 'Ali Mirza Karkiya
Salik b. Sa'id
Columns x Rows:
4 x 23
Page Size (h x w):
350 x 245 mm
Text Size (h x w):
235 x 155 mm
Ms Type:
Detached manuscript folios
Ms Status:
Completion Status:
Ready to upload to website
Illustrations in ms:
Illustration Records in archive:
Last updated by:
Date last updated:
2017-05-04 08:13
Public Notes
The so-called 'Big Head' Shahnama is one of the most heavily-illustrated copies of the text ever produced. It is currently divided into two main volumes; the first, in Istanbul, TIEM ms. 1978, has 202 paintings, and the second, in the Istanbul University Library, Yildiz 7954/310, has 109. There are, in addition, a still uncertain number of detached folios dispersed in collections around the world, probably around 40 altogether, and apparently all from the first volume of the text. The removal of these sheets must have occurred before 1915.

The paintings can be divided into two groups; the first are in a manner similar to other Turkoman works of the late 15th century; others mark a unique departure from contemporary models, conspicuous for the large figures with big heads, which has earned the ms. its nickname.

The dimensions given are averages for the dispersed pages noted. The sample page shown is from the Harvard folio, no. 1957.48.

This grouping of folios intends initially to put together the dispersed leaves; for the main bulk of the text, see the separate entries in Istanbul. Ultimately, we hope to be able to recreate the complete ms., which deserves its own monograph treatment.

The present order of images reflects their position in the narrative, and the numbering will change as new images are added.

See Sakisian, La miniature persane, 1929, p. 35; Grube, Hans P. Kraus collection, 1972, pp. 102-5; Robinson et al., Keir collection, 1976, pp. 159-62; Lowry & Beach, The Vever collection, 1988, pp. 89-95.


Project Notes
Complete what details there are from catalogues etc., e.g. for numbers of folios, dimensions, different artists.

NB can also add a sample page from LACMA?, and the opening of the poem.

Renumber these folios in due course.

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:
Welch, A. Collection of Islamic art. Prince Saddrudin Agha Khan. 3 Geneva. Switzerland.
General Ref:
Robinson, B.W., Grube, E.J., Meredith-Owens, G.M. & Skelton, R.W. The Keir Collection: Islamic painting and the arts of the book. (ed. Robinson, B.W.) Faber. London. UK.
Illustration in archive - 48     (back to top)

sample page
f. 001
Frontispiece (verso side) (1493)
f. 002
Frontispiece (recto side) (1493)
f. 003
Illuminated title page (verso side) (1493)
f. 004
The king of Yemen tests the sons of Faridun with magic (1493)
f. 005
Salm and Tur send a second message to Faridun (1493)
f. 006
Faridun replies to the second message of Salm and Tur (1493)
f. 006a
Zal marries Rudaba (1493)
f. 006b
The birth of Rustam (1493)
f. 006c
Kay Qubad enthroned (1493)
f. 006d
The combat between Rustam and Afrasiyab (1493)
f. 007
Rustam's seventh labour: he kills the White Div (1493)
f. 008
Kay Kavus fights the King of Hamavaran (1493)
f. 008a
Afrasiyab greets Siyavush (1493)
f. 008b
Siyavush plays polo before Afrasiyab (1493)
f. 008c
Faramarz captures Surkha, son of Afrasiyab (1493)
f. 008d
Human attacks Rustam to allow Afrasiyab to escape (1493)
f. 009
Zavara goes to the hunting lodge of Siyavush (1493)
f. 010
Kay Khusrau reviews his troops (1493)
f. 010a
Tus kills Arzhang (1493)
f. 010b
The Turanians attack the Iranians' stronghold on Mount Hamavan (1493)
f. 011
Rustam kills Ashkabus and his horse (1493)
f. 012
Fariburz comes to Kay Khusrau with Rustam's message (1493)
f. 013
Afrasiyab learns of Rustam's arrival (1493)
f. 013a
Garsivaz arrests Bizhan in Manizha's appartments (1493)
f. 014
Kay Khusrau searches for Bizhan in the magic cup (1493)
f. 015
Rustam feasts with Kay Khusrau (1493)
f. 016
Bizhan brings Human's head back to the Iranian forces (1493)
f. 017
Nastihan makes a night attack and is killed by Bizhan (1493)
f. 018
Khusrau draws up his army (1493)
f. 019
Giv fights Lahhak and Farshidvard (1493)
f. 019a
Guraza binds Siyamak onto his horse and leads him away (1493)
f. 019b
The seventh combat: Hujir fights Sipahram (1493)
f. 020
Zanga carries Akhvasht away over his saddle (1493)
f. 020a
The eleventh combat: Gudarz kills Piran (1493)
f. 021
Lahhak and Farshidvard head back to Turan (1493)
f. 022
Bizhan goes after Gustaham (1493)
f. 023
Gustaham kills Farshidvard (1493)
f. 024
Gustaham kills Lahhak (1493)
f. 025
Kay Khusrau kills Aila (1493)
f. 026
Kay Khusrau gives a safe conduct to Afrasiyab's family (1493)
f. 027
The Iranians repel Afrasiyab's night attack (1493)
f. 028
The Turanian prisoners before Kay Kavus (1493)
f. 029
Kay Khusrau defeats and kills the King of Makran (1493)
f. 030
Kay Kavus and Kay Khusrau meet and discuss the elimination of Afrasiyab (1493)
f. 031
Hum captures Afrasiyab (1493)
f. 032
Afrasiyab is taken out of the water (1493)
f. 033
The testament of Kay Khusrau to Gudarz (1493)
f. 034
Kay Khusrau gives up his throne to Luhrasp (1493)