Uppsala University Library

Shahnama or the Book of Kings

A thousand year old epic poem by the Persian poet Firdawsi.

Firdawsi (934–1020 or 1025 AD) composed the vast Shahnama (Book of Kings) consisting of 50,000 rhyming couplets on the history of the Persians from the first man to the battles with their sworn enemies in Turan and the Muslim conquest in the 7th century. This Persian national epic with its dramatic episodes and battle scenes is full of stories begging for illustration.

The manuscript has shelfmark: O Cels. 1

View the manuscript

Shahnama (Book of Kings)


Persian culture permeated the Ottoman Empire. This translation into Turkish by Madhi was dedicated to Sultan Osman II (who reigned 1618–22 AD). The scribe is named as Juri, but the numerous artists remain anonymous. In Shahnama's 29 miniatures Chinese influence is revealed in the dragons and flowers.

Folio 1b

Folio 10a




This particular manuscript was produced in Turkey in 1029 AH (i.e. 1620 AD). It was donated to the Library by the brothers Gustaf (1723–89) and Ulrik Celsing (1731–1805), both of whom were Swedish diplomats in Constantinople.

Folio 53b

Folio 122a

Further reading  

Tornberg, Carl Johan, Codices Arabici, Persici et Turcici Bibliothecae Regiae universitatis Upsaliensis, Lundae : Litteris Berlingianis, 1849

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