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Walters Ms. W.600, Book of kings (Shahnama)

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Book of kings (Shahnama)

Text title

Vernacular: شاهنامه


Authority name: Firdawsī

As-written name: Abū al-Qāsim Ḥasan ibn Isḥāq Firdawsī Ṭūsī

Name, in vernacular: ابو القاسم حسن بن اسحاق فردوسى طوسى

Note: Author dates preferred by cataloger: d. 411 or 416 AH / 1020-5 CE


This is an illuminated and illustrated Safavid copy of the Book of kings (Shāhnāmah) by Firdawsī (d. 411 or 416 AH / 1020-5 CE), dating to the tenth century AH / sixteenth CE. The text is largely written in black nastaʿlīq script with headings in blue on a polychrome ground. The codex opens with an illuminated medallion (fol. 1a), followed by a double-page illuminated frontispiece (fols. 1b-2a), poorly preserved. The preface, ordered by Bāysunghur in 829 AH / 1425-6 CE, begins on fol. 2b. The Shāhnāmah text begins on fol. 14b with an inscribed illuminated titlepiece. It is divided into two parts. Eighteen paintings illustrate the text. The black lacquer binding with lobed central ovals and pendants is not contemporary with the manuscript and dates to the thirteenth century AH / nineteenth CE.


10th century AH / 16th CE; damaged date in the colophon reads: end of Dhū al-Ḥijjah 9[?]5







Literary -- Poetry


The primary language in this manuscript is Persian.

fol. 620a:
  1. Transliteration: Final colophon (fol. 620a): tammat al-kitāb bi-ʿawn al-Malik al-Wahhāb fī awākhīr shahr Dhī al-Ḥijjah al-ḥarām /1/ sanat khams […] tisʿimi<ʾ>ah al-hijrīyah wa-ṣallá Allāh ʿalá /2/ khayr khalqih […] .ṭf [?] ḥqqh [?] Muḥammad wa-ālih /3/ wa-ajsābih wa-ʿitratih ajmaʿīn ilá /4/ yawm al-dīn wa-sallam taslīman /5/ dāyiman kathīran /6/ abadan /7/
  2. Comment: In addition to 620a, colophons are also on 14a and 303a: the first, which has no date, gives the title of the preface as Dībāchah-i Bāysunghurī; the second marks the end of the first part of the book; and the third has a damaged date: end of Dhū al-Ḥijjah 9[?]5

Support material


Laid paper


Foliation: i+621+i


Catchwords: Written obliquely on versos


19.0 cm wide by 32.5 cm high

Written surface

12.5 cm wide by 25.5 cm high

  1. Columns: 4
  2. Ruled lines: 25
  3. Framing lines in blue, gold, brown, and black

fols. 1a - 620b:
  1. Title: Shāhnāmah
  2. Author: Firdawsī
  3. Text note: Preface by Bāysunghur Mīrzā ibn Shāhrukh, composed in 829 AH / 1425-6 CE (fols. 1b-14a); main text divided into two parts, the second part with the title Luhrāsbnāmah (fol. 303b); double-page illuminated frontispiece before the preface (fols. 1b-2a) badly damaged
  4. Hand note: Written in nastaʿlīq script in black, blue, and gold with chapter/section headings in blue on a decorated background; incidentals in blue and gold
  5. Decoration note: Eighteen illustrations; double-page illuminated frontispiece with a faded inscription in four cartouches introducing the work and author (fols. 1b-2a); illuminated medallion (shamsah) (fol. 1a); titlepiece with the inscription aghāz-i kitāb-i Shāhnāmah in white ink on a decorated background (fol. 14b); titlepiece inscribed with the title of the second part: Kitāb-i Luhrāsb nāmah (fol. 303b); three tailpieces around the colophons (fols. 14a, 303a, and 620a); rectangular panels for chapter/section headings; frame


Upper board outside:

  1. W.600, Upper board outside
  2. Title: Binding
  3. Form: Binding
  4. Label: This black lacquer binding with lobed central ovals and pendants is not contemporary with the manuscript and probably dates to the thirteenth century AH / nineteenth CE.

fol. 1a:

  1. W.600, fol. 1a
  2. Title: Illuminated medallion
  3. Form: Medallion
  4. Label: This illuminated medallion (shamsah) with a blue ground and gold arabesques and polychrome roundels opens the codex. There are later inscriptions, including an ownership entry dated 12 Jumādá I 1204 AH / 1789 CE. The seal at the left gives the name Aḥmad.

fol. 1b:

  1. W.600, fol. 1b
  2. Title: Double-page illuminated frontispiece
  3. Form: Frontispiece
  4. Label: This is the right side of a double-page illuminated frontispiece that precedes the preface of the text. The inscriptions are not legible.

fol. 2a:

  1. W.600, fol. 2a
  2. Title: Double-page illuminated frontispiece
  3. Form: Frontispiece
  4. Label: This is the left side of a double-page illuminated frontispiece that precedes the preface of the text. The inscriptions are not legible.

fol. 2b:

  1. W.600, fol. 2b
  2. Title: Text page of Shāhnāmah preface
  3. Form: Text page
  4. Label: This is the first page of the preface ordered by Bāysunghur in 829 AH / 1425-6 CE. The text is largely written in black nastaʿlīq script with incidentals in blue and gold. The preface ends on fol. 14a with a colophon.

fol. 14b:

  1. W.600, fol. 14b
  2. Title: Incipit page with illuminated titlepiece
  3. Form: Incipit; titlepiece
  4. Label: This illuminated titlepiece is inscribed aghāz-i kitāb-i Shāhnāmah (the beginning of the book of the Shāhnāmah) in white ink on a blue ground with polychrome decoration.

fol. 17b:

  1. W.600, fol. 17b
  2. Title: The court of Kayūmars
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 48b:

  1. W.600, fol. 48b
  2. Title: Zāl in the court of Miḥrāb of Kabul
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 91a:

  1. W.600, fol. 91a
  2. Title: Rustam slays the White Dīv (the seventh feat)
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 115a:

  1. W.600, fol. 115a
  2. Title: Rustam mortally wounds Suhrāb
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 145a:

  1. W.600, fol. 145a
  2. Title: The beheading of Siyāvush
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 163a:

  1. W.600, fol. 163a
  2. Title: Kay Khusraw attacks the fortress of Bahman
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 178a:

  1. W.600, fol. 178a
  2. Title: The Turanians fight the Persians
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 216a:

  1. W.600, fol. 216a
  2. Title: The combat of Rustam and Pūlādvand
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 236b:

  1. W.600, fol. 236b
  2. Title: Rustam rescues Bīzhan from the pit
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 264b:

  1. W.600, fol. 264b
  2. Title: Gustaham fights Lahhāk and Farshīdvard
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 303b:

  1. W.600, fol. 303b
  2. Title: Luhrāsp enthroned
  3. Form: Illustration
  4. Label: This is the right side of a double-page illustration introducing the Book of Luhrāsp. The inscription in the middle eight-pointed star of the titlepiece reads: Kitāb-i Luhrāsb nāmah.

fol. 367a:

  1. W.600, fol. 367a
  2. Title: Rustam kills Isfandiyār with an arrow
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 387b:

  1. W.600, fol. 387b
  2. Title: Alexander the Great and the dying Darius
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 421a:

  1. W.600, fol. 421a
  2. Title: Ardashīr recognizes Shāpūr during a polo game
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 442a:

  1. W.600, fol. 442a
  2. Title: Bahrām Gūr hunting with Āzādah
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 544a:

  1. W.600, fol. 544a
  2. Title: Bahrām Gur enthroned after killing two lions
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 620b:

  1. W.600, fol. 620b
  2. Title: A festive gathering in a landscape
  3. Form: Illustration


The binding is not original.

Probably thirteenth century AH / nineteenth CE; black lacquer (no flap); central ovals and pendants decorated with floral designs on a gold background


Seal impression with the name Aḥmad (fol. 1a)

Ownership entry dated 12 Jumādá I 1204 AH / 1789 CE (fol. 1a)


Walters Art Museum, 1931, by Henry Walters bequest


Storey, C. A. Persian Literature: A Bio-Bibliographical Survey, Vol. 1. (London: Luzac, 1927- ), 112-159.

Richard, Francis. Catalogue des manuscrits persans. (Paris: Bibliothèque nationale, 1989), nos. 228-9.


Principal cataloger: Gacek, Adam

Catalogers: Landau, Amy; Smith, Sita

Editor: Bockrath, Diane

Conservators: Jewell, Stephanie; Quandt, Abigail

Contributors: Barrera, Christina; Emery, Doug; Herbert, Lynley; Noel, William; Simpson, Shreve; Tabritha, Ariel; Toth, Michael B.; Valle, Chiara


The Walters Art Museum


Licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Access Rights, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/legalcode. It is requested that copies of any published articles based on the information in this data set be sent to the curator of manuscripts, The Walters Art Museum, 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21201.