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17th century manuscript of the Shahnameh

Firdawsi, Abu’l-Qasim. Shah Nameh [The Book of Kings].

[Northern India], [23 Jan. 1687 CE =] 9 Rabi I 1098 H.

Small folio (186 x 288 mm). Persian manuscript on cream paper. 548 leaves. 4 columns, 27 lines of black nasta'liq script within green, gilt, and blue rules, titles picked out in red. With 5 pretty headpieces and 23 gouache illuminations, mostly half-page. Bound in near-contemporary wooden boards covered with Indian brocade silk.

A finely illuminated 17th century manuscript of the monumental Persian national epic, "Shahnameh". The copy begins with the so-called "Baysonqori preface" and the author's satire on Sultan Mahmud, followed by the dynastic list of the Kings of Persia. This preliminary matter is followed by the text of the epic poem, including the history of Rustam and Zal (4th part) and the beginning of the reign of King Luhrasp (5th part).

The colophon reads: "Thus ends this manuscript, copied at the command of His Excellency Rabani, grandson of Sobhani. This copy of the Shahnama of Ferdowsi, compiled from documents in the possession of the scholars of history Nahif al-'Ebad 'Anaytollah, son of Shah-Jahan Kheshti, and of Sheikh Farid Telmassah Kheshti, was completed on the 9th of the month of Rabi' al-Awwal of the year 1098, during the 30th year of the reign of the victorious ruler Aurangzeb".

A few old paper flaws and some worming (mainly near beginning and end), some of which has been repaired; first page rebacked (slight damage to the illuminated headpiece). The pretty brocade binding has been professionally restored.

Provenance: from the collection of the French politician and agriculturalist Joseph Faure (1875-1944), who served of Senator of his native département Corrèze from 1921 until 1939; sold by his descendants in 2022.