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Ilkhanid Illustration
Tus battling the Turanians.
[The Iranians regroup and fight back]

from the 1341 Inju Shahnama, Shiraz

fol. W.677Ca: Battle of the Iranians and the Turanians

Shelf mark: W.677
Manuscript: Four leaves from a Shahnama
Text: title Shāhnāmah
Vernacular: شاهنامه
Author: Authority name: Firdawsī
Supplied 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

These four leaves come from a dispersed illustrated and illuminated manuscript of Firdawsī's Shāhnāmah (Book of kings), commissioned by Qawām al-Dawlah wa-al-Dīn Ḥasan, vizier to the Inju governor in Fars province. It was copied by Ḥasan ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī al-Ḥusaynī in 741 AH / 1341 CE. The text is written in black nastaʿlīq script with chapter headings in red, blue, and black taʿlīq script. The dispersal of the manuscript occurred in the early fourteenth century AH / twentieth CE, and over one-half of its leaves are extant and housed in public and private collections. The illuminated folio with the year of the manuscript's completion and a dedication to the patron is housed in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (S1986.110 and S1986.111), and the folio with the colophon and finispiece is housed in the Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Collection (IR.M. 6/I). The manuscript's illustrations have been associated with production in Shiraz. The Walters paintings are as follows: Zāl joins Miḥrāb in battling the Turanians, Battle of the Iranians and the Turanians, Execution of Afrāsiyāb, and Bahrām Gūr in a peasant’s house.

Date: Ramaḍān 741 AH / 1341 CE
Origin: Iran
Scribe: Supplied name: Ḥasan ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī al-Ḥusaynī
Name, in vernacular: حسن بن محمد بن على الحسينى
Note: Name does not appear on any of the leaves; see bibliography, Simpson
Form: Leaf
Genre: Historical, Literary -- Poetry
Language: The primary language in this manuscript is Persian.
Dimensions: 30.5 cm wide by 36.5 cm high
Written surface: 24.0 cm wide by 28.5 cm high
Layout: Columns: 6, Ruled lines: 30
Contents: fols. W.677Aa - W.677Db:
Title: Shāhnāmah
Author: Firdawsī
Scribe: Ḥasan ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī al-Ḥusaynī
Hand note: Main text written in black nastaʿlīq script; chapter headings written in red, blue, and black taʿlīq script
Provenance: Name: Dikran Kelekian
Acquisition: Walters Art Museum, 1931, by Henry Walters bequest
Source: The Walters W.677

Page from the Shahnama Epic, “Tus battling the Turanians”
Copied by Hasan ibn Muhammad ibn Ali Husayn
Iran (Shiraz), 1341
Paper with ink, paint, and gold
W.677, fol. C, acquired by Henry Walters

In the non-Arab Islamic world, Persian became the language par excellence of poetry and prose. Perhaps the most famous example of the Persian literary tradition is Abu’l-Qasim Firdausi’s (ca. 935–1020) Shahnama, or Book of Kings, completed in 1010 and commonly considered the national epic of Iran. Firdausi’s Shahnama is often compared to Homer’s Iliad in its epic scope and sensitivity to the human condition. Comprising more than 50,000 rhyming couplets, the Shahnama is the longest poem written by a single author. It chronicles the mythical and historical past of Iran, from the creation of the universe to the Arab-Muslim invasion of the 7th century.

The Shahnama’s lively descriptions of heroic rulers, fierce battles, and fantastic beasts have been retold and performed for centuries. Professional storytelling, naqqali, of the Shahnama has traditionally taken place in coffeehouses, streets, gymnasiums (zurkhana), bazaars, and private homes. Those who dedicate themselves to the performance of the Shahnama are called naqqal, which translates as “transmitter.” Today, these transmitters of the Shahnama epic may be heard on radio, television, and in theatres. Here, the naqqal relates verses of the story of the Iranian hero Tus battling the Turanians, Iran’s historic enemy in Persian and English.
Source: The Art of Reciting Poetry and Prayer, Walters

Baltimore, The Walters Art Museum
Title of Work: Shahnama (1341)
Manuscript: Ms. W. 677a-d
Accession Number: Ms. W. 677c
Chapter 13b - Kamus-i Kashani
Scene: The Iranians regroup and fight back
Dimensions (h x w): 88 x 270 mm
Format: Stepped within borders
Reconstructed Folio: 99r
Hijri Date: 741
Gregorian Date: 1341 (circa)
School: Shiraz
Public Notes: The rubric says "The Turanians flee from the Iranians".
Source: Shahnama Project

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