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Ms. or. fol. 4251
Berlin, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (in index)
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© Berlin, Staatsbibliotheek zu Berlin - Preussischer Kulturbesitz - Orientabteilung
Accession Number:
Ms. or. fol. 4251
Hijri Date:
1014 Safar
Gregorian Date:
1605 June (to nearest hijri month)
Date 1232 AH (1817) before title. Stamp illegible. On a note in the front of the ms it is stated that the Staatsbibliothek has obtained the ms in 1938.
Jalala-yi Jami
Middle version
Folios extant in ms.:
Columns x Rows:
4 x 20
Page Size (h x w):
360 x 240 mm
Text Size (h x w):
245 x 140 mm
Colophon Folio:
Sample Page Folio:
Ms Type:
Ms Status:
Completion Status:
Ready to upload to website
Illuminations in ms:
Illustrations in ms:
67 ( 58 Shahnama 8 Garshaspnama 1 other [ Nariumannama ] )
Illustration Records in archive:
Last updated by:
Date last updated:
2013-10-15 14:51
Public Notes
The manuscript was purchased by the library in 1938 at the art market. Its inconspicuous, probably later binding gives no idea of its lavish decoration. This includes, apart from the miniatures, two double-page frontispieces (ff. 1v-2r, 7v-8r) and a heading at the beginning of the 'old' preface, all following the Herat/Qazvin tradition of the second half of the 16th century, with its precise geometrical division of decorative elements, minute background ornamentation and restrained colour scheme. The frontispiece of the epic (with triangles on the right and the left side only) particularly reflects Khurasan work of the third quarter of the 16th century. Neither the golden medallions in the central areas of the first frontispiece and the cartouches in its horizontal panels, nor the cartouches belonging to the heading and the horizontal panels of the second frontispiece carry any inscriptions.

Although all of nearly the same impressive quality, the paintings may have been executed by more than one artist, as differences between more conventional harmonious compositions and scenes dominated by large big-headed central figures show. Enderlein suggests that some illustrations may be the joint work of two specialised painters. Often expanding into the margins, the miniatures acquire space also by using the area between the remaining text columns. Volume is created by the arrangement of figures, a detailed, colourful landscape and fauna, and by modelled exterior architecture, including groups of buildings in the background which seem to reflect Indian and European influence. Figures remain without modelling. A wide range of colours and two shades of gold are used to support the impression of preciousness and to make decorative details discernible. Where gold is applied to details, its effect is often enhanced by punching.

The text incorporates the Garshaspnama (ff. 27v-93v) to which 8 of the 67 miniatures belong. Among the Shahnama illustrations less than an eighth is dedicated to the 'historical' part. A large spectrum of subjects is represented, reducing the usually dominant scenes of battles, single combats and enthronements. They are replaced by exotic and romantic adventures as well as by depictions of episodes preceding and following a combat, including several scenes of capture, execution, mourning and repentance. Whereas the first trait could be understood as an interpretation of the Shahnama in the mood of the Garshaspnama, the second one reveals an interest in the emotions of the individual, tragically caught in the fateful conflict between Iran and Turan.

The colophon contains the date (second decade of Safar 1014/end of June-early July 1605) but the place of execution remains open to dispute. The name of the calligrapher, Jalala-yi Jami, indicates a likely production in eastern Iran, and the illumination points to Herat, though the integration of different traditions argues for Isfahan.

(Karin Ruhrdanz)


I. Stchoukine, B. Flemming, P. Luft & H. Sohrweide, Illuminierte islamische Handschriften, Wiesbaden, 1971, pp. 83-7, no. 30.

Enderlein, V., W. Sundermann (eds.), Schahname – Das persische Königsbuch. Miniaturen und Texte der Berliner Handschrift von 1605, Leipzig, Weimar, 1988.

Dating Ref:
Colophon Extracted from the colophon of the work.
Origin Ref:
Canby, S.R. Personal communication.
Illustration Ref:
Enderlein, V. & Sundermann, W. Schahname - Das Persische Konigsbuch - Miniaturen und Texte der Berliner Handschrift von 1605. Gustav Kiepenheuer Verlag. Leipzig und Weimar. Germany.
Illustration in archive - 67     (back to top)
sample page
f. 013r
Kayumars enthroned (1605)
f. 013v
The Div Khazarvan fights Siyamak (1605)
f. 027v
Scene from the Garshaspnama (1605)
f. 033r
Scene from the Garshaspnama (1605)
f. 043r
Scene from the Garshaspnama (1605)
f. 053v
Scene from the Garshaspnama (1605)
f. 056r
Scene from the Garshaspnama (1605)
f. 074v
Scene from the Garshaspnama (1605)
f. 088v
Scene from the Garshaspnama (1605)
f. 093v
Scene from the Garshaspnama (1605)
f. 107r
Faridun brings Zahhak to Mount Damavand (1605)
f. 119v
Scene from the Narimannama (1605)
f. 154r
Manuchihr and the Iranians attack the army of Tur (1605)
f. 160v
Sam dreams of his son (1605)
f. 167v
Rudaba and Zal together (1605)
f. 180r
The birth of Rustam (1605)
f. 189v
The third battle between Nauzar and Afrasiyab (1605)
f. 198r
Rustam lifts Afrasiyab by the belt (1605)
f. 202v
The White Div blinds Kay Kavus and his army (1605)
f. 205r
Rustam's third labour: he kills a dragon (1605)
f. 208r
Rustam's seventh labour: he kills the White Div (1605)
f. 219r
Gudarz reproaches Kay Kavus (1605)
f. 227r
Suhrab fights Gurdafarid (1605)
f. 234r
Rustam meets Suhrab before combat (1605)
f. 234v
Suhrab overthrows Rustam in their second combat (1605)
f. 236r
Rustam discovers Suhrab's identity (1605)
f. 258r
Siyavush fights Damur (1605)
f. 265r
Guruy executes Siyavush (1605)
f. 279r
Giv captures Piran (1605)
f. 312v
The Iranians hold council at Mount Hamavan (1605)
f. 326v
Rustam captures and kills Kamus (1605)
f. 333r
Rustam confronts the forces of Turan and Chin (1605)
f. 336v
Rustam pulls the Khaqan of Chin from his elephant by lasso (1605)
f. 337r
The defeat of the Turanian army (1605)
f. 356v
Bizhan is brought to the pit (1605)
f. 365v
Bizhan learns of Rustam's arrival (1605)
f. 373v
The armies of Turan and Iran facing each other (1605)
f. 380v
Bizhan and Human wrestle for the first time (1605)
f. 390r
A general encounter between the armies of Iran and Turan (1605)
f. 395v
Giv defeats and binds Guruy Zirih (1605)
f. 398v
Gudarz returns to the Iranian forces (1605)
f. 403v
Kay Khusrau mourns for Piran and the dead Turanians (1605)
f. 420r
Kay Khusrau besieges Gang Dizh (1605)
f. 425v
Kay Khusrau gives a safe conduct to Afrasiyab's family (1605)
f. 433r
Kay Khusrau defeats and kills the King of Makran (1605)
f. 439r
The execution of Afrasiyab (1605)
f. 446v
Kay Khusrau gives up his throne to Luhrasp (1605)
f. 457v
Gushtasp kills a wolf in Rum (1605)
f. 460r
Gushtasp kills a dragon in Rum (1605)
f. 475r
Isfandiyar's first labour: he fights the wolves (1605)
f. 476r
Isfandiyar's second labour: he fights the lions (1605)
f. 477r
Isfandiyar's third labour: he fights the dragon (1605)
f. 478v
Isfandiyar's fourth labour: he kills the sorceress (1605)
f. 479v
Isfandiyar's fifth labour: he kills the Simurgh (1605)
f. 480v
Isfandiyar's sixth labour: he escapes from a snow storm (1605)
f. 487r
The execution of Kuhram and Andariman (1605)
f. 509v
Rustam shoots Isfandiyar in the eyes with a double-pointed arrow (1605)
f. 512r
Isfandiyar mourned (1605)
f. 519v
Faramarz mourns Rustam and Zavara (1605)
f. 551v
Iskandar kills a dragon (1605)
f. 582v
Shapur Dhu'l Aktaf enthroned (1605)
f. 588r
Shapur captures the King of Rum (1605)
f. 640v
Mazdak discusses his philosophy before Qubad (1605)
f. 644r
Anushirvan returns to his reign (1605)
f. 693r
Anushirvan replies to the mobads (1605)
f. 698v
The Rumis make a talisman (1605)
f. 720r
The city of Ray in ruins (1605)