This copy of the Shahnameh (Book of kings) was published by subscription in Bombay in 1906 by the Indian Parsi community. The Shahnameh is a Persian epic poem of more than 50,000 couplets that recounts the pre-Islamic and Sassanid history of Persia and the story of the Islamic conquest. Abu al-Qasim Firdawsi, the author, worked for some 30 years on the Shahnameh, which he presented to his patron, the Turkic-Persianate ruler of Ghaznavid dynasty, Sultan Mahmud, in 1010. This lithographic edition has a table of contents, a prose foreward, the Hajw-nama (a verse lampoon of Sultan Mahmud), the Shahnameh narrative, and a section with additional information (paginated differently). The foreward discusses the modern Persian language, the role of Firdawsi in its development, the greatness of the Shahnameh, the politics of writing the Shahnameh under the patronage of Sultan Mahmud, and the use and consultation of previous manuscripts for the compilation and publication of this edition. The Hajw-nama is a satirical poem that describes the dispute between Firdawsi and Sultan Mahmud; historians and literary scholars disagree about whether or not Firdawsi himself wrote it. The main narrative begins with verse notes praising God, the conception of wisdom, the creation of the world and human beings, the Prophet Muhammad and his companions, and the composition of the Shahnameh. The narrative that follows tells the stories of the mythical pre-Islamic Persian heroes and kings, starting with the mythical accounts of the creation of the world and the first man, Keyumars, the heroic wars between Iranian and Turanian heroes (particularly of the greatest Iranian hero, Rustam). This is followed by the history of the late Sassanian kings and the story of the conquest of Persia by Muslim armies. The book includes a glossary of rare and non-Persian words that appear in the Shahnameh. The final section contains notes on the publication of this edition, the names and professional titles of many notable individuals of the Parsi community in India, and the list of subscribers. Pagination is done differently throughout the text, both in Arabic and modern Persian numerals. Lithographic images depict individuals who play roles in or are described in the poem, beginning with the pre-Islamic Persian prophet Zoroaster. The image on page 15 shows Firdawsi standing in line with other great Persian poets, offering his completed Shahnameh to Sultan Mahmud.

Last updated: August 27, 2015