This chapter explores one of the masterpieces of the Metropolitan Museum's collection, the Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Shah Tahmasp (reigned 1524–76).
The poet Abu'l Qasim Firdausi did not invent the stories and legends that make up the Shahnama, but undertook the ambitious project of collecting them and setting them to verse.
Although the majority of the stories in the Shahnama involve battles and struggles between the forces of good and evil, other themes include love, humor, and the supernatural.
Around 1524, the Safavid ruler Shah Tahmasp (reigned 1524–76) commissioned an illustrated manuscript of the Shahnama.
In the royal Safavid workshop, the making of a manuscript—especially one as ambitious as this—drew upon the resources of the state to employ artists and supply materials such as paper, ink, gold leaf, pigments, and leather bindings.
Read in-depth information about featured works of art related to this unit.
A list of resources for additional reading, with grade levels indicated
A list of sources used to compile the information in this unit