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Walters Ms. W.601, 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 Shāhnāmah (Book of kings) by Firdawsī (d. 411 or 416 AH / 1020-5 CE), dated 1028 AH / 1618-9 CE. The text, which is incomplete, begins with the preface (dībāchah), composed on the order of Bāysunghur. It is written in black nastaʿlīq script with chapter/section headings in red. The manuscript contains fourteen illustrations that appear to be later additions, perhaps dating to the 13th century A.H./ 19th century C.E., and may have been executed in India or Iran. The black leather binding is modern.


1028 AH / 1618-9 CE








The primary language in this manuscript is Persian.

fol. 15a:
  1. Transliteration: tammat al-Dībāchah [sic] Shahnāmah [sic] bi-tawfīq Allāh /1/ taʿālá fī shuhūr sanat thamāniyah wa-ʿishrīn wa-alf /2/ tamma tamma tamma /3/
  2. Comment: At the end of the preface

Support material


Laid paper


Foliation: ii+398+ii


Catchwords: Written on versos


16.5 cm wide by 26.0 cm high

Written surface

11.5 cm wide by 19.5 cm high

  1. Columns: 4
  2. Ruled lines: 22
  3. Framing lines in blue, red, gold, and black

fols. 1b - 398b:
  1. Title: Shāhnāmah
  2. Author: Firdawsī
  3. Incipit: افتتاح سخن آن به كه كنند اهل كمال …
  4. Text note: Text begins with the preface (dībāchah), composed on the order of Bāysunghur; incomplete at the end; last page contains the beginning of Nāmah-i Gushtāsb
  5. Hand note: Written in nastaʿlīq script in black and red ink
  6. Decoration note: Fourteen illustrations (fols. 27b, 42b, 72a, 79b, 108b, 122a, 131b, 157a, 195b, 234a, 245b, 278b, 289b, 308b, and 354a); three illuminated headpieces (fols. 1b, 15b, and 42b); framing lines in blue, red, gold, and black


fol. 1b:

  1. W.601, fol. 1b
  2. Title: Incipit page with illuminated headpiece
  3. Form: Incipit; headpiece

fol. 15b:

  1. W.601, fol. 15b
  2. Title: Incipit page with illuminated headpiece
  3. Form: Incipit; headpiece
  4. Label: This incipit page with illuminated headpiece introduces the text of the Shāhnāmah.

fol. 27b:

  1. W.601, fol. 27b
  2. Title: Farīdūn and Jamshīd’s daughters Arnavāz and Shahrnavāz
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 42b:

  1. W.601, fol. 42b
  2. Title: Incipit page with illuminated headpiece
  3. Form: Incipit; headpiece
  4. Label: This incipit page has an illuminated headpiece introducing the Story of Sām.

fol. 72a:

  1. W.601, fol. 72a
  2. Title: Sām battles the dīv Nihangāl
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 79b:

  1. W.601, fol. 79b
  2. Title: Sām lassos Faghfūr of China
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 108b:

  1. W.601, fol. 108b
  2. Title: Rustam kills the white elephant
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 122a:

  1. W.601, fol. 122a
  2. Title: Rustam fights Afrāsiyāb
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 131b:

  1. W.601, fol. 131b
  2. Title: Rustam kills the White Dīv (the seventh feat)
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 157a:

  1. W.601, fol. 157a
  2. Title: Rustam kills Suhrāb
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 195b:

  1. W.601, fol. 195b
  2. Title: Gūdarz begs Kay Khusraw to return to Persia
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 234a:

  1. W.601, fol. 234a
  2. Title: Rustam shoots Ashkabūs
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 245b:

  1. W.601, fol. 245b
  2. Title: Rustam drags the Khāqān of China from his elephant
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 278b:

  1. W.601, fol. 278b
  2. Title: Rustam combats Barzū, his grandson
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 289b:

  1. W.601, fol. 289b
  2. Title: Rustam combats Pilsum, a Turanian warrior
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 308b:

  1. W.601, fol. 308b
  2. Title: Rustam rescues Bīzhan from the pit
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 354a:

  1. W.601, fol. 354a
  2. Title: Kay Khusraw kills Shīdah (Pashank)
  3. Form: Illustration


The binding is not original.

Modern black leather (no flap)


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.