Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Add. 269 (University Library, Cambridge University)

Oriental Manuscripts


1 copy of Shāhnāmah by Firdawsī

Incipit: (basmallah) بنام خداوند جهان خرد کزین برتر اندیشه برنگذرد 16v

Language(s): Persian


Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Oriental cream paper, thin and slightly glossy
Extent: 559 ff.
Dimensions (leaf): 368 × 232 mm.
Dimensions (written): 239 × 125 mm.


The text of the poem is written in 4 columns, 25 lines


Double page frontispiece depicting Sulayman enthroned [1v] and Bilqis enthroned [2r]

Luxuriously executed double page shamsas in gold and polychrome containing the Baysunghur version of the prose introduction to the Shahnamah [2v, 3r]

Margins decorated with feathery large blossoms in gold [18v, 19r]

Unwan executed in a contrasting palette of blue, ark ultramarine blue, lilac-oinc, yellow, red, black, white and gold [16v]

Text frames in red, yellow, brown and gold.

Headings in white or multicoloured are enclosed in rectangular frames filled in with floral design in polychrome [20r].

16v Title page and beginning of the poem کتاب شاهنامه من کلام فردوسی

19r Kayumars enthroned

102r Guruy executing Siyavusha

127r Kay Khusrau appointing Tus to lead an expedition to Turan

154v Kamus fighting Giv and Tus

178v A full scale battle between the armies of Iran and Turan

219v Rustam rescuing Bizhan from the pit

246v Piran escapes from Gudarz up the mountainside

275r Luhrasp enthroned

302r Isfandiyar's second labour: fighting the lions

337r Rustam killing Shaghad before dying

423r Bahram Gur killing a dragon in India


A multicoloured leather binding with gilded medallions and ornations. The spine was a later addition during a restoration in the 19th Century. The binding was restored in 1999-2002, when the codex underwent a throrough restoration and conservation in Cambridge University Library's Conservation Department by Kristine Rose and Deborah Farndell.


The drop-shaped Golkonda seal on the first page appears to be that of Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, Sultan of Golkunda, 1565-1612 with the date 1012 [1603/4 C.E.] and a later inscription dated 1091 [1610/11 C.E.]


Origin: Not after 1019/1610 C.E.

Provenance and Acquisition

The ex libris on the first page is signed by Chas Wilkins, librarian of the East India Company with the date 15th August 1806.

Donated by East India Co. in 1806.

Record Sources

Manuscript description based on E. G. Browne: A hand-list of the Muhammadan manuscripts, including all those written in the Arabic character, preserved in the Library of the University of Cambridge. Cambridge, 1900 E. G. Browne: A catalogue of the Persian manuscripts in the Library of the University of Cambridge. Cambridge, 1896. abbreviated by the OCIMCO project team. Image descriptions are courtesy of the Cambridge Shahnama Project. Substantial enhancements to the bibilographical and codicological decriptions have been provided by Dr. Firuza Melville of Cambridge University.


Entry to read in the Library is permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card for admissions procedures contact Cambridge University Library Admissions. Contact near_eastern@lib.cam.ac.uk for further information on the availability of this manuscript


    Other copies of the text Nn. 1. 20, Add. 312, and Add. 835.

Funding of Cataloguing



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