Indications of oral poetic traditions in a medieval Persian manuscript
Affiliation: Harvard University

I will concentrate on a single manuscript of the Shāhnāma, the epic “Book of Kings” composed by the Persian poet Ferdowsi, who flourished in the late tenth and early eleventh century CE.The mansuscript is the so-called Golestān Shāhnāma, produced in the city of Herat for the Timurid prince Bāysonghor, son of Shāhrokh, in the year 1430.The preface to this manuscript, as I argue, gives an extended narrative that motivates the actual production of the manuscript and illustrates how oral traditions that shape the composition of the Shāhnāma of Ferdowsi are interwoven with the concept of an “authoritative book” as the basis for authorizing any performance of any part of the Shāhnāma. My argumentation is linked with previously published discussionsthat study the narrative of the Bāysonghori Preface as an example of narrative traditions centering on the Life of Ferdowsi, and that compare the Bāysonghori narrative with other such comparable narrative prefaces to the Shāhnāma of Ferdowsi.