Princeton Shahnama Project - Homepage

About This Site:

This website contains an archive of book paintings, more commonly known as Persian Miniatures, that were created to illustrate scenes from the Persian national epic, the Shahnama, or Book of Kings. The Shahnama is a poem of some 50,000 couplets that was composed by Abu'l Qasim Firdausi over a period of several decades in the late tenth and early eleventh centuries. The core database of this site is a fund of 277 illustrations from five illustrated manuscripts of the Shahnama that are housed in Princeton University's Firestone Library. These manuscripts date from 1544 to 1674 AD, and vary a good deal both in the number and quality of paintings each contains, and in the scenes chosen for illustration.

Viewing the Paintings:
     The illustrated folios can be retrieved in several ways:
  • The button will take you to a page where you can view the paintings in individual manuscripts.
  • The button will take you to a page where all the illustrated scenes in the Shahnamaare listed in sequence by Shah. There you can get all the illustrations from a specific section of the text.
  • The button will take you to a thematic index of recurrent features of the paintings.
  • The button will return you to the this page from which you may access the supplementary materials described below.

Supplementary Material:

Technical Information

For an detailed introduction to the interface either scroll through the panels below or click here: interface information. Click here for database and programming technical information.

At present, the database includes 277 images and contextual information embedded in an Oracle database. The data structure operates on four levels: the episode, the scene, the manuscript page and the file location. To see the entire datastructure, click here. Queries can cut across data tables, making it possible to divide data for data entry and to pick from various tables to create combined tables. Perl scripts submit the sql queries and format the output that produces the list of Warner episodes, for example. Click here to run the script.


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