Twenty more Persian manuscript treasures now online
This month sees a new upload of 20 Persian manuscripts (8588 images) to the Library's Digitised Manuscripts, generously funded by the Iran Heritage Foundation, the Barakat Trust, the Friends of the British Library, the Soudavar Memorial Foundation, the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute and others. These works have been selected for their artistic, historical and cultural importance and are among the most treasured of the Library's Persian manuscripts. Bringing this work to fruition has been one of the most rewarding tasks I have done: being able to look deep into the detail of a painting, examining minute annotations and studying the text itself is a luxury which was previously only possible to the priveleged few who could make it to the Library's reading room. Now you can do it from your desk, on the bus, or even in the dentist's waiting room!
The works in this recent upload include:
Add.18188 Firdawsi's ShÄhnÄmah ('Book of kings'). Copied in 1486 by Ghiyas al-Din Bayazid Sarraf and illustrated with 72 miniatures, Turkman/Timurid style.
Add.27262 SaÊ»di's BÅ«stÄn ('Orchard') dated at Agra in November 1629 and illustrated with ten miniatures. The calligrapher was the well-known physician and poet Hakim Rukn al-Din MasÊ»ud, known as Hakim Rukna, who emigrated from Iran to India in the reign of Akbar and subsequently became one of Shah Jahanâs favourite poets.
The poet SaÊ»di and his companions meet a young man whose sheep was tamed by kindness (Add.27262, f. 37r)
IO Islamic 137 The áºafarnÄmah, a history of the conquests of Timur by Sharaf al-Din Yazdi completed ca. 1424. Illustrated with 30 miniatures in the 16th century Shiraz style.
The defeat of Damascus. Timur watches the flames as the city burns (IO Islamic 137, f. 358r)
IO Islamic 138 The only known copy of the Khamsah ('Five poems') composed by the poet Jamali who lived at the beginning of the 15th century. Dated 1465 at Baghdad and illustrated with six miniatures.
IO Islamic 3214 The SindbÄdnÄmah, an anonymous version of the adventures of Sindbad in Persian verse. It was probably copied in Golconda, India, around 1575, and contains 72 illustrations.
The vizierâs tale of the confectioner, his unfaithful wife, and the parrot (IO Islamic 3214, f. 36v)
IO Islamic 3558
The DÄ«vÄn-i KhÄqÄn, a beautifully illuminated copy in calligraphic shikastah of the poems of Fath Ê»Ali Shah Qajar, Shah of Iran (r. 1797-1834), who wrote poetry under the name Khaqan.
Or.166 The Aá¸¥vÄl-i HumÄyÅ«n PÄdshÄh. Princess Gulbadan Begam's autobiographical account of the reigns of her father, the Mughal Emperor Babur, and his successor, her brother Humayun. Although this manuscript probably dates from the early 17th century, it is the only known copy to have survived.
Or.343 FutÅ«á¸¥ al-á¸¤aramayn, a poetical description of the holy shrines of Mecca and Medina and the rites of pilgrimage by Muhyi Lari (d.1526 or 1527). Includes 17 miniatures dating from the 17th century.
Or.2839 SÅ«z va GudÄz (âBurning and meltingâ) by NawÊ»i Khabushani, the story of a bride whose betrothed was killed by a falling wall on his way to the wedding and her subsequent suicide on his funeral pyre. It was commissioned by Akbar's son Prince Danyal (1581-1614) who requested a change from traditional tales. It contains three miniatures and dates from the early 17th century.
Or.3714 VÄqiÊ»Ät-i BÄburÄ«, the memoirs of the Mughal Emperor Babur (r. 1526-30), originally written in Chaghatai Turkish and translated into Persian at his grandson Akbarâs request by Mirza Ê»Abd al-Rahim Khan in 1589. This imperial copy, containing 143 illustrations, mostly by attributed artists, was completed c. 1590-93.
Babur with birdcatchers near Kabul, in 1504. Artist: Shiyam (Or.3714, f. 190r)
Or.5302 SaÊ»di's GulistÄn ('Flower garden') copied in 975 (1567/68) in Bukhara (Uzbekistan) and ascribed in the colophon to the famous calligrapher Mir Ê»Ali Husayni. It includes six Bukhara-style paintings which were commissioned at Akbar's request. The manuscript was 'improved' in India in Jahangir's reign when seven more paintings were added, probably between 1605 and 1609.
Chaos in the classroom: the story of the schoolmaster who became infatuated with one of his pupils (Or.5302, f. 80r)
Or.5637 MuÊ¼nis al-arvÄá¸¥ ('The confidant of spirits'), an autograph copy by Princess Jahanara (1641-81), daughter of Shah Jahan, of her biography, composed in 1640, of the Sufi saint MuÊ»Ä«n al-DÄ«n ChishtÄ« (see blog: Princess Jahanaraâs biography of a Sufi saint).
Or.7043 The SalÄ«m KhÄnnÄmah, a poetical history of the reign of the Ottoman Sultan Selim II (r.1566-1574) composed by Luqman in 1580. Copy dated 1099 (1687-88) containing eight miniatures, Ottoman
Or.7573 The DÄ«vÄn of Hafiz copied in Akbarâs reign in 990/1582-3 by âAbd al-Samad Shirin-qalam and enhanced by Jahangir c. 1611 with nine miniature paintings. Panels containing pairs of birds separate the verses thoroughout the volume. The final part of the manuscript including the colophon and one miniature is preserved at the Chester Beatty Library Dublin (see blog: Jahangirâs Hafiz and the Madrasa Jurist).
Or.8193 The 'Yazd' anthology, a collection of Turkish works written in calligraphic Uighur script in Yazd in 1431 with the addition of the Persian DÄ«vÄns of Kamal-i Khujand and Amiri in the margins.
Facing pages with the Uighur text in the central panels and the Persian poems in the margins (Or.8193, ff. 46-47)
Or.11846 The DÄ«vÄn of Hafiz SaÊ»d copied by Shaykh Mahmud Pir Budaqi at Shiraz for the library of the Qaraqoyunlu prince Pir Budaq (d.1466).
The opening shamsah with a dedication to Abu'l-Fath Pir Budaq Bahadur Khan (Or.11846, f. 1v)
Or.12208 The emperor Akbar's copy of Nizami's Khamsah, dated between 1593 and 1595 and copied by Ê»Abd al-Rahim Ê»Anbarin-qalam. It contains 38 illustrated folios attributed to the major artists of the imperial Mughal studio and an original lacquered binding.
A scene from the Haft paykar in which the king escaped from a tower, carried off by magical bird. Artist: Dharamdas (Or.12208, f. 195r)
Or.12857 Ê»Abd al-KarÄ«m al-QÄdirÄ« JawnpÅ«rÄ«'s JavÄhir al-mÅ«sÄ«qÄt-i Muá¸¥ammadÄ«, a musical treatise dedicated to Muhammad âAdil Shah (r.1626-56) dating from the 17th century which includes 48 Deccani miniatures from an earlier Dakhini manuscript dating from around 1570 (see blogs: Indian Music in the Persian Collections: the Javahir al-Musiqat-i Muhammadi (Or.12857). Part 1 and Part 2).
Or.12988 An imperial copy of the first volume of Abu'l-Fazl's history of the reign of Akbar, the AkbarnÄmah. Completed ca.1602, it contains 39 paintings and inscriptions (unfortunately pasted over during a previous refurbishment and now only visible with infrared photography) by Jahangir and Shah Jahan.
The baby Akbar and his mother Hamidah Banu Maryam Makani. Artists: Sanvalah and Narsingh (Or.12988, f. 22r)
Or.14139 The DÄ«vÄn of Hafiz, copied at Herat or Mashhad ca. 1470 by, according to Shah Jahanâs note on folio 1 , the famous calligrapher Sultan Ê»Ali Mashhadi. The whole work was refurbished and remargined at the Mughal court ca. 1605 with cartouches containing images of animals, birds, musicians, workmen, soldiers etc.
The opening of the DÄ«vÄn-i á¸¤Äfiáº, copied by Sultan Ê»Ali Mashhadi (Or.14139, f. 1v)
More details about these manuscripts, together with links to catalogue descriptions and related literature, can be found at Digital Access to Persian Manuscripts. This page is very much a 'work in progress' page to which we add continually, so please keep looking there to follow new developments.