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Shiva Mihan

PhD student, Persian Studies


I was educated in Iran and studied for my B.A. in Fine arts, painting, at the University of Art, Tehran. I pursued this subject further with a graduate M.A. degree in Fine arts and painting, at Al-Zahra University, Tehran; the topic of my thesis was "Visual rhythm in the illustrations of the Baysonghor's Shahnameh".

Subject groups/Research projects

Arabic & Persian Studies:

Research Interests

Current Research

I am working on the famous Baysonghor manuscript of Ferdowsi's Shahnameh, commissioned by the son of the Timurid ruler Shahrokh, and produced at his atelier in Herat in 833 AH/1430 AD. The manuscript is kept in the Golestan Palace library in Tehran and is relatively inaccessible, which explains its neglect in western scholarship, as compared with other famous and exquisite examples of Persian arts of the book.

Baysunghur's text is well known partly for deliberately presenting a new 'edition' of theShahnameh, which significantly increases the number of verses, and contains a preface that adds new layers to the myths surrounding the life of the poet and the creation of his poem. However, it is also famous for the superb quality of the illustrations, quite unlike anything produced in previous copies of the poem and indeed, not really emulated in later works.

My thesis aims to present a detailed investigation of the manuscript in its historical and artistic context, comparing it with other manuscripts commissioned by Baysonghor and also other books produced elsewhere at around this period. At the heart of the thesis is a detailed analysis of each painting, from the point of view of its subject matter, composition, and the precise details it contains – which also permits a study of the courtly context in which the manuscript was produced.

Research Interests

Alongside a considerable interest in Islamic philosophy, Persian literature and the study of Ancient Persia, my special research interest is in Persian painting, with a particular focus on the Timurid era (15th century).