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Akimushkin O. An Entire Library in a Single Binding // Manuscripta Orientalia. Vol. 4, No 3, September 1998. P. 62-69.


The manuscript anthology Gulshan held in the collection of the St. Petersburg Branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies was compiled and executed by Muhammad Kāzim b. Muhammad Ridā whose pen-name was Mahjur. The manuscript is undoubtedly a rarity. It could be regarded as a notable work in the history of Persian manuscript books. The manuscript is outstanding in at least three respects. First, the copy presents a vast anthology of Persian literature of the tenth—eighteenth centuries, with special attention to the seventeenth—eighteenth centuries poets. In particular, the work of Mahjur was characterised by heightened interest in small-scale poems (mathnawī) generally written on concrete themes drawn from life. Mathnawīs make up 66 of the total number of 103 poems. Second, the manuscript contains 100 miniatures illustrating various works. They are eclectic in style, including features and echoes of the Isfahān school of the late seventeenth—early eighteenth century, as well as of the traditions of the age of Nādir-shāh (r. 1736—1747), the Zands and the early Qājārs. Finally, the copy is striking in its impressive dimensions — 69.5 X48.8 cm. One should note that the large- and extremely large-format Qur'āns which were created in Iran and neighbouring countries were a familiar, if relatively rare, phenomenon. As for secular manuscripts of such dimensions, they were created in Iran apparently only on the rarest occasion. In addition to the copy under discussion here, I know only two: (i) Fāl-nāma and (ii) Būstān-i khiyāl, compiled by Mir Muhammad Taqī al-Ja'farī al-Husaynī Ahmadābādī…

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Keywords


Mahjur
Manuscripta Orientalia, selected papers
mathnawī
Persian manuscripts
Persian poetry

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