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Walters Ms. W.603, 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 incomplete copy of the Shāhnāmah (Book of kings) by Abū al-Qāsim Firdawsī (d. 411 or 416 AH / 1020-5 CE), dating between the eleventh century AH / seventeenth CE and the thirteenth century AH / nineteenth CE. The text, written in black nastaʿlīq script with chapter/section headings in red on a gold ground, is illustrated with seventeen paintings. Two of the illustrations (fols. 2b and 269a) are in a clearly recognizable Qajar style and certainly date to the thirteenth century AH / nineteenth CE. The others may be late Safavid, repainted in the thirteenth century AH / nineteenth CE.


11th century AH / 17th CE -- 13th century AH / 19th CE







Literary -- Poetry


The primary language in this manuscript is Persian.

Support material


Laid paper


Foliation: 272


Catchwords: Written on versos, usually quoting a hemistich



19.5 cm wide by 34.0 cm high

Written surface

13.0 cm wide by 25.5 cm high

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

fols. 2b - 269a:
  1. Title: Shāhnāmah
  2. Author: Firdawsī
  3. Text note: Text incomplete at beginning and end
  4. Hand note: Written in black nastaʿlīq script with chapter/section headings in red on a gold ground
  5. Decoration note: Seventeen illustrations; chapter/section headings in illuminated panels; framing lines in red, green, blue, black, and gold


Upper board outside:

  1. W.603, Upper board outside
  2. Title: Binding
  3. Form: Binding
  4. Label: This black lacquer binding with central oval and pendants is decorated with gold flowers and dates to the thirteenth century AH / nineteenth century CE.

Upper board inside:

  1. W.603, Upper board inside
  2. Title: Doublure
  3. Form: Doublure
  4. Label: This painted doublure dates to the thirteenth century AH / nineteenth century CE.

fol. 2b:

  1. W.603, fol. 2b
  2. Title: Sulṭān Maḥmūd of Ghaznī; Iyāz (enslaved to him); and the poets Firdawsī, ʿUnṣurī, and ʿAsjadī
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 24b:

  1. W.603, fol. 24b
  2. Title: Isfandiyār decapitates Bidarāfsh
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 35a:

  1. W.603, fol. 35a
  2. Title: Isfandiyār ties the hands of Gurgsār and takes him prisoner
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 59b:

  1. W.603, fol. 59b
  2. Title: Zavārah kills Isfandiyār’s son Nūsh-Azar
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 72b:

  1. W.603, fol. 72b
  2. Title: Rustam kills his brother Shaghād before dying in the pit
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 88a:

  1. W.603, fol. 88a
  2. Title: The hanging of Farāmarz on the order of Bahman
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 117b:

  1. W.603, fol. 117b
  2. Title: Alexander the Great fight the Abyssinians
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 132b:

  1. W.603, fol. 132b
  2. Title: Ardashīr kills disobedient warriors
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 151b:

  1. W.603, fol. 151b
  2. Title: Shāpūr captures the king of Rūm
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 172b:

  1. W.603, fol. 172b
  2. Title: Bahrām Gūr hunting
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 184b:

  1. W.603, fol. 184b
  2. Title: Bahrām Gūr wrestles with two Indian champions in the presence of Shangul, king of India
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 209a:

  1. W.603, fol. 209a
  2. Title: Bahrām Chūbīnah defeats Khusraw Parvīz in combat
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 222b:

  1. W.603, fol. 222b
  2. Title: Khusraw Parvīz battles Bahrām Chūbīnah
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 236a:

  1. W.603, fol. 236a
  2. Title: Gurdiyah, sister of Bahrām Chūbīnah, kills her husband Gastahm
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 253b:

  1. W.603, fol. 253b
  2. Title: Mihr Hurmuzd kills Khusraw Parvīz
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 260b:

  1. W.603, fol. 260b
  2. Title: Saʿd-i Vaqqāṣ kills Rustam-i Hurmuzd
  3. Form: Illustration

fol. 269a:

  1. W.603, fol. 269a
  2. Title: The tomb of Firdawsī in a landscape
  3. Form: Illustration


The binding is not original.

Dates to the thirteenth century AH / nineteenth CE; lacquer boards (no flap); floral design in the central ovals and pendants; doublures decorated with a plant with yellow flowers (perhaps daffodils)


Walters Art Museum, 1931, by Henry Walters bequest


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


Principal cataloger: Gacek, Adam

Catalogers: Landau, Amy; Smith, Sita

Copy 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.