Magic, Monsters and Macabre : Shāhnāmah

Magic, Monsters and Macabre

<p style='text-align: justify;'><i>Shāhnāmah</i> (Book of Kings) is an epic poem by Abū'l-Qāsim Firdawsī (fl. ca. 940–1020) who lived during the Samanid and Ghaznavid dynasties. After the death of the poet Abū Manṣūr Daqīqī (d. 975), who had only completed a thousand lines, Firdawsī endeavoured to complete the poem, which he did shortly before the year 1000. He drew upon a number of pre-Islamic Pahlavi middle Persian sources, principally the <i>Xwadāynāmag</i> (Book of Lords), now lost, that recounted the ancient rulers of Persian until the Sassanian period, as well as Iranian mythology and folklore. This magnificent manuscript is one of nine copies held in the John Rylands Library. Completed in 1542, probably in Shiraz, the volume features 38 illustrations, some of which depart from the usual depictive schemes. Formerly owned by Persian translator Turner Macan (d. 1836), who published the first critical edition of the Persian text in 1829. Purportedly from the library of the 'King of Oude', this manuscript is more likely one dated 1542 that was presented to Macan by Major General Felix Vincent Raper (d. 1849) that he describes as '...a beautiful and correct copy'. </p>


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