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A dispersed manuscript that originally contained 104 or more paintings that vary in quality from excellent to mediocre. Currently 34 (and counting) of these paintings have been identified. The so-called "Gutman Shahnama" in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, that contains 12 paintings, one illumination, and the bulk of the text pages, constitutes the core of the original volume, rebound after more than 90 paintings had been extracted and dispersed in the late 19th or early 20th centuries. These paintings are housed in public and private collections around the world.
Page size: largest 36.4 cm high, 22.7 cm. wide. Other pages are smaller and probably have been trimmed.
Text area: 24.5 to 26.0 cm high; 14.0 to 15.2 cm wide.
Text: four column nastaʿliq 30 lines to the full page.
In black, of later date, appear on all but one of the 34 folios (this one folio has been trimmed). These numbers correspond perfectly to their sequence in the Shahnama, and were apparently written to preserve the original illustration sequence when the manuscript was broken up. Number 104, the highest currently recorded number, occurs near the end of the Shahnama; accordingly the original manuscript must have contained 104 or more illustrations.
Moʿin's signature appears in the bottom margin of 22 of the 35 known folios. In some cases the bottom margin has been trimmed, and any signature perhaps trimmed along with it. Nevertheless, it is not clear why Moʿin signed some of the paintings and not others.
No dates appear on any of the pages, and there is no colophon. Based only on stylistic and circumstantial considerations, a date of circa 1660 is tentatively suggested.
Dispersed at various locations including the Metropolitan Museum, Aga Khan Museum, Khalili Collection, The Brooklyn Museum, The Royal Ontario Museum, MIA in Doha, and other unknown locations.
See individual pages for specific citations. A number of other paintings have been cited in the literature as deriving from this manuscript. In reality, however, paintings from this manuscript have, on occasion, been confused or intermingled with the paintings from two other Shahnama manuscripts also painted by Moʿin: a dispersed manuscript dated 1059/1649 (ms. B), and Chester Beatty P 270 ms. D). Other paintings have also been attributed to this manuscript and/or to Moʿin which we consider questionable..
Last Updated: June 5, 2015. | Originally published: May 21,2003.