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Ibrahim Sultan holding court

Ibrahim Sultan holding court

Leaves from a disbound manuscript of Firdausi, Shahnama (Book of kings), copied c 1430 for Ibrahim Sultan of Shiraz

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, MS Ouseley Add 176, fol 239v–240r

This illustrated double page marks the beginning of the second section of Ibrahim Sultan’s Shahnama manuscript, where the protagonists are drawn from the ranks of historical figures rather than heroes of legend.

The painted image of Ibrahim Sultan, at the time a provincial governor, holding court in a palatial setting reinforces the reader’s perception of him as a generous patron and legitimate successor to the glorious kings of Iran’s past.

The garden glimpsed through the rear-wall windows of the richly coloured architectural space is more fully portrayed in the left-hand-side image. Ladies of the court look down into the flowering shrubs and greenery, symbols of the regeneration and vitality that are the hallmarks of an enlightened ruler.