About this manuscript
On folio 1a we find a medallion-shaped ornament, a so-called shamsa. Folio 1b has an illuminated heading (ʿunwān) followed by the prose preface of Abū Manṣūr (ff 1b-7a), the tenth-century author of a now lost prose Shāhnāma. This so-called ‘older’ preface often features in manuscript copies of Firdawsī’s Shāhnāma.
This prose preface is followed by a double-page illustrated frontispiece (ff 7b-8a), showing a princely reception in a garden.
Folios 8b and 9a are illuminated pages (sarlawḥ); the opening verses of the Shāhnāma on these illuminated pages are framed by verses ascribed to Ibn Yamīn.
The top and the bottom of each illuminated page contains a hemistich (miṣrāʿ)
written in gold letters, in a white oval form placed in a blue floral
border with accents of red, white and gold. The opening verses are
written in black against a white background and surrounded by
cloud-shaped brown-golden lines.
These illuminated pages count eleven verses or distichs (bayts) in two columns; one hemistich or miṣrāʿ per column. In the following folios the text is divided over four columns, with 25 lines - amounting to 50 bayts - per folio.
Apart from the double page illustrated frontispiece, the manuscript contains 18 illustrations (ff 11b, 24b, 49a, 67a, 89b, 114a, 133b, 151b, 180a, 204a, 240b, 259a, 268b, 296a, 318a, 354a, 385a, 419b). These are not full-page illustrations, but typically take up half a page in a stepped form, often exceeding the margins of the text block. Eight illustrations have been subject to repainting.
Farhad Mehran. Mapping Illustrated Folios of Shahnama Manuscripts: The Concept and Its Uses. In: Shahnama Studies II. The Reception of the Shahnama. Edited by Charles Melville and Gabrielle van den Berg. Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2012, 235-266. https://doi-org.ezproxy.leidenuniv.nl:2443/10.1163/9789004228634_013
Marianna Shreve Simpson, Šāh-nāma (iv). Illustrations. In: Encyclopaedia Iranica Online. https://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/sah-nama-iv-illustrations
A number of the illustrations have been repainted. Which ones and how do you think they can be recognized?
What colour is the ink used in the rubrics? What would this indicate? A regular text page in this manuscript has four columns and 25 lines. How do rubrics affect this structure?
The champion Rustam features in six of the eighteen paintings of Or. 494. What strikes you in the way he has been depicted in these six paintings?
Compare the illustrations in the Leiden manuscript with illustrations in some of the manuscripts in the Shāhnāma Project Database. What can you say about the sequence of illustrations in the Leiden manuscript in the viewer?