Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Firdausi, Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020), Opaque watercolor, ink, silver and gold on paper

Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Firdausi

Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020)
Bin Shams ad-Din Sheikh Muhammad
Ali Naqi
Aqa Nuyan
Ghulam Parmak
Fadl Ali
Muhammad Zaman (active 1649–1700)
Object Name:
Illustrated manuscript
A.H. 1074–79/A.D. 1663–69
Attributed to Iran, probably Isfahan
Opaque watercolor, ink, silver and gold on paper
H. 18 1/2 in. (47 cm)
W. 11 1/8 in. (28.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Alexander Smith Cochran, 1913
Accession Number:
Not on view
In the late seventeenth century, the imprint of European painting appears in the style of certain Persian artists such as Muhammad Zaman. Here it can be seen in the use of perspective, the thick-foliaged trees, the shaded hills, and the bellpull in the pavilion. The terrace with its openwork railing and the river with its bank just beyond reflect the influence of painting of Mughal India, where the artist may have resided at one time.
Signature: Fadl 'Ali: The signature of this artist appears on the following folios: 106r, 116r, 129v, 162r, 170v, 184r, 193v, 203r, 214r, 244v, 278r, 292v, 299r, 331v, 347r, 354r, 422r (dated 1140 for 1104/1692).

Mu'in Musavvir:The name of this well-known artist is inscribed on the following folios: 116r, 162r, 170v, 176v, 184r, 193v, 203r, 214r, 230r (dated 1104/1693), 244v (dated 1104/1693), 278r, 282r (dated 1104/1693), 292r, 299r and 422r. The inscription 'Mu'in Musavvir' almost always appears below the miniature (an exception is 278r where his name is found on a tambourine), as well as on illustrations also bearing the signature of Fadl 'Ali (the exceptions are 23r and 282r, on which only Mu'in's name appears).

'Ali Naqi ibn Shaikh 'Abbasi:The signature of this artist is found on the following three illustrations: 'Faridun Laments as the Head of Iraj is Brought before Him' (fol. 24v), 'Siyavush Displays his Skill before Afrasiyab' (fol. 100r) and 'Siyavush and Farangis Wed' (102r). These illustrations are dated 1014, which has been read by Jackson and Yohannan and Robinson as 1104.

Ghulam Parmak (or Pir Beg): His signature is inscribed between columns of text on 'Zal Displays his Prowess before King Manuchihr' (fol. 43v) along with the date 1019. Jackson and Yohannan have read the name as Ghulam Parmak, while Robinson suggested Pir Beg. Robinson read 1019 as 1109/1698.

An artist signing with the epithet 'O Lord of our Time' (Ya Sahib al-Zaman): Three illustrations (fols. 73v, 110v, 151v) found in the manuscript are signed with this epithet. Robinson records 110v as being dated 1107/1696; Jackson and Yohannan, on the other hand, do not mention a date.

Inscription: There are a number of seals and inscriptions that provide information on the history of this manuscript, see Jackson and Yohannan, 1914, pp. 30-32.
Muhammad Hashim bin Husain al-Husaini, Iran(from 1835); Aqa Nur Muhammad Husain, Tabriz, Iran(until 1894; sold to Nizam); Amir Nizam, Tabriz, Iran(from 1894); Alexander Smith Cochran, Yonkers, NY (until 1913; gifted to MMA)
Jackson, A. V. Williams, and A. Yohannan. Catalogue of the Collection of Persian Manuscripts, Including also some Turkish and Arabic, Presented to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York by Alexander Smith Cochran. Columbia University Indo Iranian Series, vol. 1. New York: Columbia University Press, 1912. no. 4, pp. 28-38, ill. fol. 24b (b/w).

Valentiner, William Reinhold. "The Cochran Collection of Persian Manuscripts." Museum of Metropolitan Art Bulletin, old series, vol. 8 (1913). pp. 80-86.

Dimand, Maurice S., ed. "Dated Specimens of Mohammedan Art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." MMA Studies 1, pt.2 (1929). no. 19, p. 231, ill. fig. 18, folio 331b.

Stchoukine, Ivan. Les Peintures des Manuscrits de Shah Abbas Ier à la Fin des Safavis. Bibliotheque Archeologique et Historique, Vol. tome LXXVI. Paris: Librairie Orientaliste Paul Geuthner, 1964.

Robinson, Basil William. "Drawings of the Masters." In Persian Drawings from the 14th through the 19th century. Boston and Toronto: Shorewood Publishers Inc., 1965. pp. 97, 137, ill. pl. 65 (b/w), folio 331b.

Robinson, Basil William. "The Shahnameh Manuscript Cochran 4 in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." In Islamic Art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, edited by Richard Ettinghausen. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1972. pp. 73-86.

Swietochowski, Marie, and Richard Ettinghausen. "Islamic Painting." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., vol. 36, no. 2 (Autumn 1978). p. 31, ill. p. 31 (color), folio 110v.

Sims, Eleanor, B. Marshak, and Ernst J. Grube. "Persian Painting and its Sources." In Peerless Images. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002. no. 100, p. 187, ill. (color), fol. 110v.

O'Kane, Bernard, ed. "Studies in Honour of Robert Hillenbrand." In The Iconography of Islamic Art:. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005. ill. fig. 15.8 (b/w), folio 151b Rustam Leading the Persian Army by Muhammad Zaman.

Lutz, Albert, ed. "Orte der Sehnsucht und Inspiration." In Gärten der Welt. Zürich: Museum Rietberg, 2016. no. 34, pp. 76-77, 301, ill. p. 76 (color).