About this site

This website is an archive of book paintings--commonly known as Persian Miniatures--that were created to illustrate scenes from the Persian national epic, the Shahnama (the 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 of this archive is a fund of 277 illustrations from five illustrated manuscripts of the Shahnama that are housed in Princeton University's Firestone Library and which were bequeathed to Princeton by Clara S. Peck and by Robert Garrett (Class of 1897). 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.

How to view the material

links to a page of the paintings in individual manuscripts.
links to a page where all the illustrated scenes in the Shahnama are listed in sequence by Shah. There you can get all the illustrations from a specific section of the text.

Supplementary Material

Technical Information

This site presents one set of views of an Oracle database that contains several hundred images of illustrated manuscript pages coupled with contextual information. We employ a data model that captures four kinds of objects: (1) the historical narrative of dynasties, shahs, and episodes; (2) the scenes that define illustration types; (3) manuscripts, comprised of folios and sides (i.e. pages); and (4) and digital media files. Because these data are stored in a relational database, and not a hypertext, it is easy to create queries that data from different objects, to produce hybrid tables that can serve as the basis for a variety of hypertext views (e.g. view of pages by episode).

The Development Team

  • Prof. Jerome W. Clinton, Dept of Near Eastern Studies, Princeton
  • Dr. Rafael C. Alvarado, Educational Technology Center, Princeton
  • Dr. Peter Batke, Educational Technology Center, Princeton
  • Audrey Wright, MLS, Firestone Library, Princeton
  • Software currently maintained by: etcsys@princeton.edu



    © 2002 Trustees of Princeton University