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    Manuscript of the Persian "Book of Kings," with Nineteen Miniature Paintings, in a Lacquered Pictorial Binding

    Persian manuscript of Ferdowsi's Shahnama or Book of Kings [and other works?]. [Circa 15th-18th century]. Persian manuscript on paper. Folio (10.875 x 7.375 inches; 276 x 187 mm.). [502] leaves (the leaves are numbered: [1]-143, 145-175, 177-503, [1, blank]). The leaves are numbered in the upper margin on the recto of each leaf. Catchwords in the lower margin on the verso of each leaf. The text begins on the verso of the first leaf (the recto of the first leaf is blank). Many of the leaves have been renewed. The original leaves are on a very fragile brownish paper, most with early repairs or remargined or with corners renewed. The newer leaves are on a cream-colored polished paper (most appear to be laid paper, with vertical chain lines visible). Written in black ink in nasta'liq in four columns of 25 or 26 lines (the original leaves with 25 lines, the newer leaves with 26 lines) within a border consisting of an outer blue rule enclosing two red rules. Headings are written in red ink in nasta'liq across two columns, except for on the first leaf, where it extends across all four columns. Sometimes headings are written vertically between text columns. The text area measures approximately 8.25 x 5.125 inches; 210 x 130 mm. There are colophons on fols. 143b, 503b.
    Persian manuscript on paper. Folio (10.875 x 7.375 inches; 276 x 187 mm.). [502] leaves (the leaves are numbered: [1]-143, 145-175, 177-503, [1, blank]). The leaves are numbered in the upper margin on the recto of each leaf. Catchwords in the lower margin on the verso of each leaf. The text begins on the verso of the first leaf (the recto of the first leaf is blank). Many of the leaves have been renewed. The original leaves are on a very fragile brownish paper, most have early repairs or have been remargined or with corners renewed. The newer leaves are on a cream-colored polished paper (most appear to be laid paper, with vertical chain lines visible). Written in black ink in nasta'liq in four columns of 25 or 26 lines (the original leaves with 25 lines, the newer leaves with 26 lines) within a border consisting of an outer blue rule enclosing two red rules. Headings are written in red ink in nasta'liq across two columns, except for on the first leaf, where it extends across all four columns. Sometimes headings are written vertically between text columns. The text area measures approximately 8.25 x 5.125 inches; 210 x 130 mm. There are colophons on fols. 143b, 383b, and 503b (which appear to be dated "894" (1488)).

    There are nineteen miniature paintings in the text (apparently from the Shahnama, many depicting Rustam, who is easily identified by his tigerskin coat and leopard hat): fol. 4a; fol. 4b; fol. 5a; fol. 5b ("Rustam kills Akvan Div"); fol. 6b ("Trial by Fire of Siyavash"); fol. 7b; fol. 10a ("Jamshid halved before Zahhak"); fol. 11b; fol. 21a; fol. 25a; fol. 26b; fol. 45a ("Rustam slays the White Elephant with Lion-headed mace"); fol. 51b; fol. 91b; fol. 110b; fol. 122b; fol. 161b ("Rustam lifts Afrasiyab by the belt"); fol. 178a; and fol. 182a ("Bizhan slaughters the wild boars"). There is space left at the head of fol. 1b, possibly for an illuminated headpiece; some leaves have space left possibly for paintings: fols. 145b, 159b, 191a, and 272b.

    In a Safavid-style lacquered binding gilt, with no flaps, depicting on the covers scenes from the Shahnama, within a border containing passages from the text. The front cover depicts: "Rustam pulls the Emperor of China from his Elephant," and the back cover possibly: "Rustam kills Ashkabus and his horse." The doublures are also lacquered with a gilt double fillet border. Smooth spine decoratively ruled and lettered in gilt with the title in Arabic. Decorative free endpapers and three flyleaves at front and back. The binding is worn, the corners rubbed, the joints very tender. Most of the paintings have splits or tears, some with early repairs, some have pigment rubbed away. There is dampstaining in the outer margin of fols. 273-[504] and in the lower margin from fol. 384. Occasional marginal worming: in the lower margin of fols. 65-71 and in the outer margin of fols. 446-454. A few leaves have small holes or rust holes in the text. An ownership seal is stamped in the margin of several of the original leaves (the seal does not appear to be in the Chester Beatty Library Islamic Seals Database).


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    Auction Dates
    April, 2012
    11th Wednesday
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