The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Book of Kings), the title of prose and verse collections of myths, epic legends, and historical chronicles of the Persian peoples. The most significant was the epic by Ferdowsi. Other collections have survived only in excerpts recounted by various authors. Originally the collections were entitled Khvatay-namak, and the title Shah-nameh appeared later.

The collections were first compiled during the rule of the Sassanids (third to sixth centuries) in Middle Persian, and in the eighth and ninth centuries they were translated into Arabic. None of these collections survives today in the original or in Arabic. In the tenth century, works entitled Shah-nameh were compiled in Farsi, based on the Khvatay-namak and other Middle Persian works, as well as on their Arabic translations.

The poet Masudi Marwazi wrote a verse Shah-nameh, which evidently incorporated the mythology, epos, and court chronicle of the Sassanids. The poet Abul Muayyad Balkhi wrote a prose Shah-nameh, which included dastans and episodes not found in Ferdowsi’s work. In 957 the Abu Mansur prose collection was completed; the work was named for a Samanid military commander who financed its writing. Ferdowsi’s version was begun by the poet Daqiqi, who managed to write no more than 1,000 beyts (couplets). The first version dates to 994, but it was not a complete version of the poem. The definitive version was written in 1010–11.


Bartol’d, V. V. “K istorii persidskogo eposa.” Soch., vol. 7. Moscow, 1971.
Osmanov, M. -N. “Svody iranskogo geroicheskogo eposa (Khudai-Name i Shakhname) kak istochniki Shakhname Firdousi.” Uch. zap. In-ta vostokovedeniia, 1958, vol. 19.
Safa, Z. Khamasesarai dar Iran. Tehran, 1946.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
For nearly a thousand years they have continued to read and to listen to recitations from his masterwork, the Shah-nameh, in which the Persian national epic found its final and enduring form.
For many aficionados of Islamic art, however, the highlight of the gallery will doubtless be the display of folios from the copy of the now dispersed Shah-Nameh, (Book of Kings), commissioned for Shah Tahmasp (r.
The objects on display are as various as the Holy Quran in different scripts, illustrations of classics like Firdausi's Shah-Nameh (The Book of Kings), carpets, jade ware and exquisite ceramic art that shows the influence of China.
Persian epic literature, in particular the Shah-nameh or Book of Kings, abounds with stories of heroes outwitting and slaying dragons.
The legend of Alexander inspired writers down through the ages, from Plutarch (who wrote of him in Parallel Lives) and Ferdowsi (in the Shah-nameh) to John Lyly, Pedro Calderon de la Barca, Jean Racine, Jakob Wassermann, and many others.
He paved the way for the great Ferdowsi, who included Daqiqi's verses in his own Shah-nameh ("Book of Kings").
They still survive as such in the divs of Persian folklore, especially through Ferdowsi's 11th-century epic, Shah-nameh ("Book of Kings").
Persian poet, author of the Persian national epic entitled the Shah-nameh ("Book of Kings"), which he gave final and enduring form.
One scholar suggested that the Hamlet story had its origins in the East, being similar to a tale in the 11th-century Shah-nameh (1010; "Book of Kings") by the Persian poet Ferdowsi.
Shah-nameh ("Book of Kings") Celebrated work completed in 1010 by the Persian epic poet Ferdowsi.