Shah Namah of Firdausi

Scope and Content

Shah Namah (Book of Kings) of Firdausi, giving the history of the Persian people from mythic times until the conquest by the Arabs. This handsome copy was made in AD 1605. Written in nasta 'liq, Persian with many illustrations.

Administrative / Biographical History

Firdausi (c.941-1020), Persian poet and author of the Persian epic Shah Namah (The Book of Kings). He was born in Tus in Khorasan, now part of Iran, into a land-owning family, which gave him financial independence. He travelled extensively throughout Khorasan, learning the history of the Persians, studying ancient chronicles now lost, and learning from the old land-owning class, the diqhans, who preserved the oral traditions of their pre-Muslim past. His original name seems to have been Abu-'l Kasim Mansur; the name 'Firdausi' was given to him by Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna, who said his work turned the court into an assembly of paradise (firdaws). He lived at this court for many years with other scholars and antiquarians; he composed his epic history for Mahmud, according to legend taking 35 years to compose the 60,000 verses. He was then disappointed by the size of the Sultan's reward for all his efforts, wrote a savage satire about him, and fled the court.

Access Information

By appointment with the Keeper of Manuscripts. Access to records containing confidential information may be restricted.

Acquisition Information

Catalogued by DM Dunlop.


Call number used to be msPK6455.A1

Other Finding Aids

Individual Manuscripts and Small Collections database available as part of Manuscripts Database.

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Maia Sheridan, Archives Hub project archivist, based on material from the Manuscripts Database

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Keeper of Manuscripts. Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.