The miniatures are as follows
6v. Siyamak (son of Gayumarth) killed by the Black demon (son of Ahriman)
7v. Hushang (and Gayumarth) extracting revenge upon the black demon
10r. King Mirdas is murdered under the persuasion of Iblis by his son Zahhak by causing him to fall in a deep pit which he had prepared- the throne is now clear
11r. Iblis comes to Zahhak as a cook and provides him with meals his only request is that he may kiss his shoulders- from which grow serpents.
13v. Iblis tells Zahhak that the serpents must be fed on human brains everyday- 2 youths are sacrificed every day
20v. Nobles of Iran invite Zahhak on mistaken belief that he is a just leader to defeat Jamshid who has become a bad leader- Zahhak saws him in two.
21r. Tovorg captures Sarand Kabuli.
24v. Garshasp (?) kills dragon
27v. Garshasp (?) kills tigers with his horse lying dead in the foreground
28r. Garshasp (?) kills the emperor of Chin on an elephant, with his mace
30v. Garshasp (?) cleaves an emperor in two
30r. Garshasp (?) in battle scene
31v. Garshasp in battle scene
33r. Battle scene
34v. Garshasp in battle scene
36v. A part blind messenger is wrestled to the ground after delivering a message from Bahou to Garshasp
37v. The part blind messenger carries Bahou away whilst Garshasp battles on ahead
38r. Garshasp kills savages who feed on a dead elephant
40v. Garshasp visits the Brahman in the mountains of Sarandib
46v. Garshasp in the island of rhinoceri and his fight with them
47v. Garshasp in the island of dragons, killing many and bringing the heads to his army
48r. Garshasp lands on an island of Waq Waq
52v. Garshasp and Minhaj reaching land and seeing wonders
53v. Afrasiyab orders Nawdhar's head to be cut off
57r. Garshasp kills two lions
58r. Garshasp kills two people in the marketplace
60r. Garshasp demonstrates his prowess in order to have king's daughter 62v. Garshasp kills the black div
63r. ? makes a quick killing as the army marches on
64r. ? makes a quick killing as the army marches on
66v. Garshasp kills two at once
67r. ? army slays a herd of elephants and sets a village alight
68r. Army moves on- further destruction of elephants
69r. Battle scene, Garshasp frees captives
75v. The battle between the Garshasp's army and Qataris
75r. Garshasp kills a giant water rat
77v. Garshasp in his night attack hides under the tree, lifts [enemy's] horse by the tail and throws him down
78r. Garshasp in a battle scene
79r. Faridun in a battle scene
87v. Zahhak enthroned outside his palace, in front of him is his chained treasurer Kondrow
89v. Faridun storms Zahakk's palace
90r. Faridun captures Zahhak
91r. Zahhak, chained, is left to die at the bottom of Mount Damavand
99r. Garshasp in a battle before an encampment
100r. Garshasp in a moonlit battle
102v. Garshasp in battle
103v. Garshasp in battle
108v. Garshasp in a double battle scene
108r. Garshasp in a double battle scene
116v. Garshasp fights on
117v. Garshasp grabs a horse by the tail. Before a city
118r. Garshasp encounters a two-headed, two-ended monster who bites off his elephants' trunk
405v. Faridun's sons (Salm, Tur & Iraj) fight over thrones
410r. Salm is killed by Manuchehr
417r. Sam (son of Neriman) kills the dragon in Kashaf mountain
419v. Sam faints seeing Paridukht
421v. Sam and Qalwad meet the Zangis
421r. Sam and Qalwad kill the Zangis
423v. Various nobles pay homage to a seated King
423r. The same seated King giving audience
425v. Same seating King with attendants and pomegranate trees. Paridukht stumbles upon Qalwad
426v. Qalwad tells Sam of his anguish
427v. Sam and the Qalwad on their horses
430v. Sam goes to the fortress of Zhand Jadu - who tries to crush Sam with a rock
432r. Sam kills Zhand Jadu
433r. Sam kills white spotted black div
435v. Sam kills the bearded white div- the Makugal
438v. Sam before the King looking at Paridukht
439r. Sam takes Paridukht out hunting
440v. Sam climbs into the harem at night and catches a sleeping guard
441r. Sam caught entertaining Paridukht
442r. Sam is caught and is chained by the King
444v. Paridukht frees Sam in the night while the guards are sleeping
445r. Sam looking up at Paridukht in her pavilion
448v. Sam up to his waist in a marsh is approached by a veiled huntress 449r. Sam is about to stab the huntress but she removes her veil to show that she is Paridukht
450r. Sam and Paridukht in a blue pavilion before the King surrounded by horsemen
454v. Sam tries to get into the harem
456v. Sam on a river with his army
457v. A lake battle between Sam and a div
458v. Sam injures the spotted div and overturns the boats of his army
459v. The spotted Div informs the greatest black div- Nahangal
460v. The greatest black div join the naval battle
461v. Double battle scene with Nahangal who causes havoc to Sam's forces, lifting up whole bat loads of soldiers
461r. Further havoc
462r. Sam rides on Nahangals shoulders and stabs his head
463r. Sam finally clubs the Nahangal to death on shore
465v. Three horsemen thank Sam
468r. Sam rescues Paridukht out of a well in China
469v. Sam defeats Faghfur Shah on an elephant
470r. Sam fights another army and a great wildman div
478r. The wildman div in battle
481v. Another wildman div in battle
483v. Another wildman div in battle
484v. Sam slays a king in half
485r. Sam overturns a wildman div
487v. Sam in battle
488v. Sam fighting a full page wildman div
489r. Sam fighting the biggest full page wildman div
491v. Another battle scene
492r. Sam battling two white divs
496v. And another
497v. Sam twisting the head off a black div
498v. Sam in battle scene with many dead soldiers
500v. Sam (with tiger head headdress) greats the Simurgh and Zal
502r. Zal in a the courtyard of the King of Kabul, Mehrab. Rudaba's five slave girls test Zal.
507v. Zal visits Rudaba
508v. Zal greets Sam
516v. Zal in battle
519r. Zal battles divs
521v. Zal battles divs on rhinoceri
522r. Zal is entertained by female dancers
524r. Birth of Rustam
526v. Sam and companions prostrate at seeing Rustam
527r. An encampment of merchants outside a city being destroyed by Rustam
530v. Afrasiyab in battle with Rustam
534v. Zal kills Khazarvan (Afrasiyab's commander)
This comprises parts of the Shahnama with two interpolated texts, the Garshaspnama of Abu Mansur Ali b. Ahmad Asadi Tusi and the lesser-known Samnama, attributed to Khaju Kirmani. Both of these recount the exploits of two characters dealt with only very briefly by Firdawsi. The Shahnama text does not adhere strictly to that of the published version - several parts are omitted and have been replaced by those which provide for more visually arresting scenes.
The introduction comprises, ironically, of the Baysunghur preface which states that no additions have been made to the original text and an Abu Mansur preface which details how the stories were collected and lists the genealogy of kings in the Shahnama. The opening of the manuscript begins with the Shahnama, but upon the death of Jamshid at the hands of King Zahhak, it moves directly into the story of Garshasp from the Garshaspnama. The story of Garshasp, great-grandfather of Rustam, is notable for its spirited narrative and its philosophical discussions, but rather more exciting are the numerous battles against armies of elephants and rhinoceri.
The manuscript then returns to the text of the Shahanama, which follows a section with gaps left for miniatures. After this comes the Samnama, which relays the exploits of Sam, son of Nariman and his love for the Chinese princess Paridukht. Sam engages in a succession of battles with divs (demons) and giants, a gift to any imaginative illustrator. The manuscript then continues as far as the birth of Rustam where it ends. This suggests the present manuscript is part one of what was originally conceived as a two part or still more expanded Shahnama, the second volume possibly including the Bahmannama and Barzunama.
Traditionally post-Shahnama epics were treated as separate entities from the Shahnama and often purposefully excluded as a dilution of Firdawsi's masterpiece. However, fabulous storytelling and an influence of romantic oral traditions meant that the Shahnama began to serve as an opening for the post-Shahnama epics to reappear as part of enlarged versions of the Shahnama.
This manuscript follows on from the Shirazi practice of including interpolation practiced in several centres which produced illustrated manuscripts in the second half of the 16th century. The earliest manuscript with sizeable interpolation copied in 1569 by Abd al-Vahhab is described as a compendium of epics and was produced in Qazvin and which created a precedent for interpolated texts (Karin Ruhrdanz "About a group of truncated Shahnamas: A case study in the commercial production of illustrated manuscripts in the second part of the sixteenth century. Muqarnas, Volume XIV, pp 118-133).
The miniatures in this manuscript are in two sections. The first runs from the beginning until just after the Garshaspnama. This is followed by a gap of approximately one third of the manuscript, which remains unillustrated, but with large spaces left in the text for the addition of miniatures. The miniatures begin again at the start of the Samnama. Although the bulk of the paintings in both sections are evidently by the same hand, there are marked differences between the two. In the first, it appears that this artist has copied parts of earlier works, which in some paintings contrast strongly with other areas of the same composition. In the second section, however, his style is much more coherent, in some cases producing truly spectacular results.
The eclecticism of the first section is best illustrated by two miniatures: f.57r., where Garshasp kills two lions, and f.40v., where Garshasp visits a Brahmin. In the first, the two lions seem lifted from 17th century examples such as those in the Windsor Castle Padshahnama (Milo Cleveland Beach and Ebba Koch, King of the World, London, 1997, no.46, pp.110-11). Garshasp himself is mounted on a horse which is strikingly different in appearance from the unbridled horse on the far side of the image. In the second miniature, Garshasp and the mountain are rendered rather crudely, whereas the Brahmin belongs to an earlier Mughal tradition, comparing closely to the figures in a painting of a Pahlavan initiation ceremony of the Aurangzeb period in the St Petersburg Muraqqa' ( f.131b recto). The zebus in the foreground are particularly well painted, and also recall the work of 17th century artists. These compare to a black buck, signed Manohar, c.1610-15 (Susan Stronge, Painting for the Mughal Emperor, New York, 2002, pl.102, p.137) or a painting from the Windsor Castle Padshahnama of Shah Jahan Hunting (Beach and Koch, op. cit., no.33, pp.84-5).
There are many of other examples of this eclecticism in the manuscript, including European-style square-riggers, depictions of villages, fortifications, and elephants, which in particular are well-drawn almost without exception.
Where earlier Mughal types are lacking, the drawing of animals is noticeably weaker, as in the paintings of dragons (f.47v. and f.118r.), for example, and in the painting of a giant water rat (f.75r.).
In the second section, the style is generally more consistent, resulting in much more harmonious compositions. It is here that the real strength of this manuscript lies, in the numerous paintings of divs and giant wildmen, which equal and even surpass the earlier prototypes. The text of the Samnama provides an extraordinary variety of divs, in many different colours and with many personalities, often shown considerably larger than Sam and his men. The scope and scale of these demons and giants is paralleled only in the Akbar-period manuscripts such as the lRazmnama of Hamida Begum (Linda York Leach Paintings from India, Oxford, 1998, no.9, pp.40-7, and Milo Cleveland Beach, The Adventures of Rama, Washington D.C., 1983, pp.18, 29).
PLACE OF PRODUCTION
The painter of the majority of the majority of the miniatures is identified as 'Miran'. He must have had access to a considerable library with numerous Mughal pictorial sources of the 16th and 17th centuries. At only a few places would this have been possible, and all are likely to have been major Mughal centres. A clue is possibly given by the distinctive large turban with a plume worn by both Sam and Zal when they are not engaged in battle. This is very similar to those in an illustrated Kashmiri Khavarannama in the National Museum, New Delhi dated 1716 (Inv. No.89.1065; Barbara Schmitz and Nasim Akhtar, 'Important Illustrated Manuscripts in the National Museum, New Delhi', in Schmitz, ed., After the Great Mughals, Mumbai, 2002, pp.56-60). Although the quality of painting in that manuscript is rather inferior to ours, similarities are apparent also in the tonality and composition of some of its scenes. With this in mind, the nearest metropolitan centre which fulfils all the criteria for the production of the present manuscript is Lahore, in the Punjab. Indeed, the tonality of many of the paintings and the portrayal of the demons has much in common with the slightly later paintings of the Pahari states, Guler in particular.
THE ARTIST MIRAN
The miniatures in this manuscript cover a vast range of subjects. There are enthronements, battles between armies of men and against divs and animals, and a huge variety of exterior and interior scenes. Portraying this provides the artists of these miniatures with quite a challenge, sometimes met more successfully than others. The artist responsible for most of these miniatures is identified as 'Miran' in inscriptions just below the images or in the margins. The name 'Miran' does not seem to have been discussed either in contemporary texts or in more recent scholarship, but he was evidently rather skilled.
One other miniature from this manuscript appears to have surfaced, also ascribed Miran and from the Samnama section (Marie-Christine David and Jean Soustiel, Miniatures orientales de l'Inde, Paris, 1983, cat. 40, pp.40-1).
Another painting, signed 'Miran' and dated AH 1147/1734-5 AD (f.3a Dorn 489, St. Petersburg) is a copy after an early 17th century miniature of Jahangir watching wrestlers from a balcony. That painting appears to be faithful to the 17th century style, if somewhat stiff. It has some features which bear striking similarities to some of the miniatures in our manuscript. These include the three-quarter view faces of some of the figures, their eyes somewhat close together, and the resemblance between the dark-skinned wrestlers of that page and the savages disembowelling an elephant on f.38r. of ours.
In our manuscript we witness Miran's transformation from the faithful copyist to the fully-fledged master. From his tentative inclusions of earlier elements in the first part, through to the glorious images later on, here is an artist coming of age, integrating the sum of his influence into a coherent and highly personal style.
This manuscript has recently been conserved and stabilised at The Conservation Department of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.