Skip to content

Majma' al-Tawarikh,

commissioned for the Timurid Sultan Shah Rukh,

Stock Code 106386

Timurid Herat, c. 1425-26 AD.

Original price £27,500.00 - Original price £27,500.00
Original price £0.00
£27,500.00 - £27,500.00
Current price £27,500.00
Timurid illustrations of Chinese Emperors. These leaves originate from the famous illustrated copy of Hafiz-i Abru's Majma al-Tawarikh ('Universal History') originally commissioned by the Timurid ruler Shah Rukh. The text is a historical treatise encompassing Biblical, Iranian, Islamic and Chinese history up until Shah Rukh's reign (1405-47). The work was based on Rashid al-Din's Jami' al-Tawarikh (Gatherer of Chronicles), a universal history first compiled for the Mongol ruler Ghazan to legitimise the ruling dynasty by giving it a formal historical pedigree. Fellow historian Hafiz-i Abru (d. 1430) was commissioned this lavish work to serve the same purpose as Rashid al-Din Jami's text of legitimising Shah Rukh's rule of the Persian Empire.

The Majma al-Tawarikh was written between 1423 and 1426 and is partly based on an earlier work, the Jami al-Tawarikh (Gatherer of Chronicles), ordered by the Ilkhanid ruler Uljaytu and compiled by his minister Rashid al-Din at the Rab'-i Rashidi scriptorium at Tabriz in 1314. The text consists of four parts: a history of the world up to the Arab conquest; a history of the Caliphate until 1258; a history of Persia during the Seljuk and Mongol periods; and the Zubdat al-Tawarikh, which chronicles the lives of Timur and Shah Rukh until 1427. There are two extant copies: a dispersed manuscript formerly in the collection of Emile Tabbagh and Parish Watson, and the other copy, dated AH 829/AD 1425, is in the Topkapi Saray Library, Istanbul (H. 1653). For more information on this manuscript see: S. Canby, Princes, Poets and Paladins: Islamic and Indian Paintings from the Collection of Prince and Princess Sadruddin Aga Khan (London 1998, pp. 28-31); T. Lentz and G. Lowry, Timur and the Princely Vision: Persian Art and Culture in the Fifteenth Century (Los Angeles and Washington 1989, pp. 98-102).

This codex has undergone a series of transformations since its composition in the fifteenth century. At the time of copying, there were a large number of empty spaces within the body of the text left that were never completed by a contemporary artist. These were later completed by a workshop in Iran in the early 20th century, when leaves with 'original' illustrations were cut and pasted to other pages from the same manuscript (presumably to give a better aesthetic quality to these folios), and dispersed by art dealers. The two present leaves both show evidence of this history: the illustration of the four Chinese emperors are contemporary illustrations executed in Shah Rukh's workshop, but the image has been pasted onto an unillustrated folio belonging to the history of Buddha from the same manuscript. The illustrations of the enthroned king in the second folio is modern addition to a folio transcribed in Shah Rukh's library.

Single volume, illuminated manuscript on brown Herati paper, in Farsi, two leaves (from two different paper stocks), each leaf 423 x 323 mm; text in single column, 32 lines fine scribal black naskh, the title of the chapter in large red thuluth and important names in red naskh, text framed within double ruling of red and blue, fol.1r with illustrations of four Chinese rulers (completed in an early hand), fol.2r with illustration of enthroned ruler receiving a courtesan (illustration by a later hand, likely painted in Iran c.1900-1925), both illustrations pasted onto the leaves (taken from different pages in the same manuscript), leaves mounted on stubs, first folio washed with some smudges to ink, remains of adhesive to upper margins of both leaves from earlier mounting, pencil inventory number '1960.129' to first leaf and '1960.144' to second; housed in modern burgundy cloth, morocco label to upper cover.


We offer secure and express delivery on all local and international orders of rare books, maps and prints placed through this website.

About us

Shapero Rare Books is an internationally renowned dealer in antiquarian & rare books and works on paper.

Our Bookshop and Gallery can be found in the heart of Mayfair at 106 New Bond Street, where most of our stock is available to view and on public display.

We exhibit at major international art fairs, including TEFAF (Maastricht and New York), Frieze Masters, Art Miami and Masterpiece London, as well as antiquarian & rare book fairs including New York, Paris, London, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Hong Kong.

Read more

Ask us a question

Majma' al-Tawarikh,


Stock code: 106386



An exceptional experience in the heart of London’s Mayfair for not only seasoned collectors but those considering purchasing their first rare book or print.

Guaranteed Authenticity
International Delivery
Meet Our Booksellers
Free Gift Wrapping


Your cart is empty

Continue shopping