Textual History of the Shāhnāma in Fourteenth-Century Shiraz
Published on April 6, 2023
Written by Ali Shapouran

February 2022 | BIPS Travel Grant

Textual History of the Shāhnāma in Fourteenth-Century Shiraz

My study deals with Persian manuscripts of fourteenth-century Shiraz, which, with their special taste in literature and book art, heavily influenced Timurids, and via them, the entire Persianate world afterwards. A dozen copies of the Shāhnāma, the epic history of pre-Islamic Iran, are pinnacles of manuscript production at the period. My thesis theorises that identity, ideology, and adab merge together in the Shāhnāma, so all ideas which would appear as ‘Shiraz’s taste’ are seen first in the Shāhnāma variants and are basically the result of immigration of scholars, ideas, and manuscripts, to Shiraz after the Mongol conquest.

I arrived in Istanbul on 1 March, 2023. Before my trip, Dr Djalal Khaleghi Motlagh had sent his microfilm of the MS Topkapı Sarayı Hazine 1510, and this made my job easier, because I had already seen the manuscript in black and white and needed to answer the questions which arose after that. Thanks to Dr Behmen Razi Ulyai, I was able to attend the Tokpakı Sarayı Museum Library and see the manuscript on 3 March and continued this on 5, 6, 9, 11 and 12 March. I took notes of the manuscript and also saw the MS Hazine 1511, of which I already have a colour digital copy.

On 10 March I talked about the Shāhnāma to high school students and the school crew in Iranian Fajr school in Istanbul. This school was established in 1883 and is the oldest Iranian school in the world, including Iran itself, which is still active.

On 13th I visited the Süleymaniye collection and met Dr Behmen Razi Ulyai who works on the illustrations of the Safavid manuscripts and discussed possible collaborations.On the 14th and 15th, I met Marc Czarnoszevicz, a PhD student in St Andrews, now doing a fellowship at Anamed University, Istanbul, and Dr Artemis Papatheodorou, a post-doc research fellow in Koc University, Istanbul joined us on the 15th. Artemis got her PhD from Oxford and works on different versions of Alexander’s romance, one of the oldest of which could be found in the Shāhnāma. We exchanged some ideas and planned for more collaborations in the future.







Ali Shapouran is a PhD candidate at the University of St Andrews where he works on Persian manuscripts of 14th century Shiraz.



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