ABU'L QASIM FIRDAWSI (D. 1024 AD): SHAHNAMA, copied by Muhammad Saleh b. Ghias al-Din and with 27 ILLUSTRATIONS by Mu'in Musavir\n[Iran, dated AH 1060/1640 AD]\n354 x 216mm., most with 29 lines of black nasta'liq in four columns within gold rules, the margins with additional lines of nasta'liq written diagonally within blue and gold rules, titles written in blue or orange on gold ground, colophon dated 15 Rabi' I AH 1060/18 March 1650 AD, signed Muhammad Saleh b. Ghiath al-Din, f.1v. with finely illuminated headpiece in gold, blue and colours in the 17th century Safavid style, text in clouds reserved against a gold ground, margins with spiralling gold arabesque, similar full-page illuminations ff.4v.-5r., f.5v. with illuminated headpiece, 27 FINELY PAINTED MINIATURES, each signed by Mu'in Musavir, stamped and gilded red morocco binding with flap, slight wear, small crude old repairs.\n\nMu'in Musavvir (1617-1708), who was was one of the greatest and most prolific artists of 17th century Safavid Isfahan. He was a student of the great court painter Reza-i Abbasi. A portrait of his master by Mu'in survives in the Princeton University Library (Garrett Coll.96G). Throughout his long career (c.1635-1707) gave he produced a large corpus of work, much of it involved with traditional manuscript illustration, including several Shahnama manuscripts, but like Reza also produced some remarkable single-figure portraits (See M. Farhad, "The art of Mu'in Musavvir: A mirror of his times" , published in S. Canby (ed.), Persian Masters: Five Centuries of Painting, Marg, 1990).\n\nHis skill as a painter was not matched by his rather clumsy handwriting. Many of the paintings in the present manuscript are signed in his distinctive script. As Soudavar puts it, the handwriting is "unruly, uneducated and indiosyncratic. It is so awkward that even an accomplished forger might not be able to re-create his style" (A. Soudavar, Art of the Persian Courts, New York, 1992, p. 264).\n\nThe Shahnama or "Book of Kings" is one of the longest poems ever written by a single author. The Persian national epic, written by Firdausi, from Tus in North East Iran, it was one of the main forces behind the Iranian "Renaissance" of the 11th century. His epic work narrates the history of Iran since the first king, Gayumars, who established his rule at the dawn of time, down to the conquest of Iran by the Muslim Arab invasions of the early 7th century. The final version was completed in 1010, and although dedicated Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna (modern Afghanistan, r. 999-1020 AD), the work was conceived as a memorial to Iran's glorious past. This was at a time when its memory was in danger of disappearing due to the adoption of Arabic and Islamic culture and also the political dominion of Turkic rulers.