National library purchases rare Shahnameh manuscript 

July 29, 2020 - 18:28

TEHRAN – The National Library and Archives of Iran (NLAI) has recently purchased a rare manuscript copy of Persian poet Ferdowsi’s epic masterpiece Shahnameh that is considered the most unabridged and perfect version ever found.

The version was inscribed in the 15th and 16th centuries during the late Timurid period and early Safavid era, the library announced in a press release, which did not mention the identity of the seller.

“The national library is the national memory of the people, and its experts consider themselves as the guardians of the national assets. Therefore, they recognize, in particular, that all manuscripts deserve to be preserved at the library,” said Zahra Modarresi, the NLAI deputy director in the Rare and Manuscript Books Office.

“The newly-purchased version of the Shahnameh has satisfied the experts’ specific criteria for being preserved at the NLAI,” she noted 

About the unique characteristics of the copy of the book, Modarresi said, “Most of the available versions of the Shahnameh are not complete and unadulterated, but the newly-purchased copy is absolutely unabridged and perfect. It has been inscribed beautifully in nastaliq script and its first two pages carry absolutely fascinating inscriptions.”

She said that NLAI’s Rare and Manuscript Books Office has acquired a number of special containers to preserve rare manuscripts and documents under carefully controlled conditions.

The Shahnameh of Baysunqur, a valuable copy of the Shahnameh created in 1430 for Prince Baysunqur (1399-1433) who was the grandson of Turkic ruler of Central Asia Timur (1336-1405), is kept in the library of Golestan Palace in Tehran. It was registered on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register list in 2007.

Persian literati believe that the Shahnameh can be considered as a preserving force for keeping the culture and customs of the Iranian people alive. 

In a verse from the book, Ferdowsi wrote, “I toiled much over thirty years, by the Persian language I remade Iran.” It refers to the fact that Ferdowsi spent 30 years writing the Shahnameh over a millennium ago.

Photo: This combination photo shows images of a rare copy of the Shahnameh purchased by the National Library and Archives of Iran.


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