Featured Source: The Book of Kings

The Book of Kings
“The Book of Kings.” 1430 CE. Author: Firdawsī, 940-1020. Calligrapher: Ja’far, Persian calligrapher, active 1412-1431. Language: Persian. World Digital Library: National Library and Archives of the Islamic Republic of Iran.


Shahnameh Baysonqori is a copy of Shahnameh (Book of kings) composed by the highly revered Iranian poet Abū al-Qāsim Firdawsī (940–1020). The importance of Shahnameh in the Persian-speaking world is comparable that of Homer’s epics in the West. The book recounts in verse the mythological history of ancient Persia and tales of the famous heroes and personalities of Iranian history, from legendary times to the 7th-century reign of Yazdgerd III, the last king of the Sassanid dynasty. The tales are based on earlier historical works, but are mixed with fiction and mythology.Shahnameh Baysonqori is one of the two ancient Iranian manuscripts listed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Memory of the World register. The priceless, 700-page original manuscript is kept in Golestan Palace Library in Tehran. The present book is a facsimile copy of the original, reproduced in limited copies. The manuscript contains 22 superb miniatures drawn by a group of artists in the style of the Timurid (Teymurid) school. The text was created in 1430 by the famous calligrapher, Ja’far Baysonqori, and is an outstanding illustration of the art of book-making in Iran of the Timurid era.