Old Manuscripts and Maps from Khorasan
A glimpse into the Tajik's history art and culture.

Majma al-Tawarikh (Collection of History): The Appearance of The Buddah after his Death. Herat, Khorasan. 1425 AD. Ink and watercolor on paper. 33 x 22.3 cm.
A page from the poetry manuscript of Diwan of Sultan-Husayn Bayqara. Herat, Khorasan 1490 AD. Opaque watercolor, gold, and decoupage on gold-flecked colored on paper 22.5 x 14.2 cm.
Copper Bowl. Herat, Khorasan. Late 15th to early 16th century Copper, engraved and originally tinned  14.5 x 26.7 cm.
A shipwrecked sailor is carried off by a giant bird. From Wonders of Creation. Herat, Khorasan 1503-4 AD. 

These are a series of stories told by Sindbad the sailor, a merchant of Baghdad, about seven fantastic journeys he has 
made. In the course of them he suffers many disasters from which he always makes a miraculous escape. He encounters giant birds, huge serpents, cannibals and other monsters; he is buried alive and he is sold into slavery. Despite his many misfortunes he always manages to amass a fortune and return home a rich man. 

Lion and a bull. From the manuscript of Kalila wa Dimna. Herat, Khorasan 1430 AD. Unknown Painter. 

This fight between a lion and a bull is a one of the  illustrations from the manuscript of Kalila wa Dimna done in Herat. The book  takes its name from the two mischievous foxes Kalila and Dimna mentioned in the book. 

A leaf from Shah Rukh's Majma' al-Tawarikh. Fraidun approached by petitioners. Herat, Khorasan 1425 AD. 

This leaf is from a copy of the Majma' al-Tawarikh, a work by the historian and geographer at the court of Shah Rukh, called Hafiz-i Abru. It depicts Faridun, seated in the center on large blue cushions and wearing a gold crown, places his right hand over his heart in a gesture of greeting to the group of petitioners who approach from the left. This work is based on the Jami' al-Tawarikh, or 'Universal History', of Rashid al-Din, which dates from the beginning of the 14th century. The Majma' al-Tawarikh was divided into four sections: 

  • pre-Islamic Khorasan 
  • the Caliphate Period 
  • Khorasan in the Seljuqi and Mongol period 
  • Khorasan in the Timurid period 
The final part, Khorasan in the Timurid period, was dedicated to Shah Rukh's son Baysunghur under the title Zubdat-i Tawarikh, 'the Cream of Histories'. No complete copy of any of the four parts of the Majma' al-Tawarikh seems to have survived. The manuscript was originally composed of 407 leaves, with 150 illustrations.
A leaf from Shah Rukh's Majma' al-Tawarikh with a miniature of King Niko and his children. Herat, Khorasan 1425 AD
Iskandar Nama of Jami. Herat, Khorasan 1550 AD. 
Another page from Iskandar Nama of Jami. 

A note in Persian on f.1v, by the scribe Zarrin Raqam, provides a physical description of the manuscript: 'the text on ochre-sprinkled ground, the attached margins in blue decorated with gold, and a few folios with marks leather cover, outer cover red with stamped decoration, in gold, colors and lapis'; he also names the scribe as 'master of the world, Mir 'Imad'

Ghazaliyyat of Jami. Signed and dated December 1492 or January 1493 AD. 
Another page from Ghazaliyyat of Jami. 

 This is a beautifully illustrated copy of Jami's Ghazaliyyat. Jami was born in Herat, Khorasan in 1414 and died in there in 1492 AD. This great Tajik scholar is best known for his poetry but he was also regarded as a scholar, ' without equal in his time in the field of the concrete and speculative sciences' (Babur).  This volume of his lyric poetry was originally the second of a set, the first of which would have contained his romances. 


  1. A prince rides through landscape. 
  2. Layla in a camel howdah, visiting the emaciated Majnun, who sits in the wilderness surrounded by animals. 
  3. A Prince seated outside a palace. 
  4. A man on his knees before a mounted prince, who pauses during a hawking expedition. 
  5. A prince hunting in a landscape. 
  6. Majnun taken by his father to the Ka'ba. 
  7. A prince enjoying a picnic with retainers. 
  8. A prince seated under a canopy in a landscape is offered refreshment. 
  9. A prince reclining on a terrace with servants, who offer him victuals. 
Diwan of Amir Shahi copied by Ali al-Mashhadi, Khorasan. 1500 AD.
A page from the Timurnama of Maulana 'Abdallah Hatifi. Bukhara, Khorasan 1510 AD.
Alexander meets a Brahman. A leaf from a Shahnama. Herat, Khorasan. 1425-1430 AD
Aja'ib al-Makhluqat, On the Wonders of Creation. Khorasan. 1704 AD. 
Another page form On the Wonders of Creation. 

The full title of this book is Kitab 'Aja'ib al-Makhluqat wa Ghara'ib [al-]Maujudat', which means, 'The Book of Wonderful and Wierd Creations'. The author's name does not appear in any manuscript and evidence of authorship remains problematic. However, Hajji Khalifa attributes the work to Mohammed bin Mahmud bin Ahmad al-Tusi al-Salmani. 

The text is divided into ten main sections. They are: 

  1. Angels and spiritual beings; the poles; the marvels of the sun, moon, planets and stars. 
  2. Fire and fire-worshippers; meteorology. 
  3. The earth, its features,divisions and climates. 
  4. Cities, mosques and temples; natural disasters. 
  5. Trees and plants. 
  6. Statues, talismans, marvels of tombs of prophets and royal treasures. 
  7. Mankind, soul and physical features. Woman.Peoples and tribes. Prophets, wizards and pretenders. Alchemy, medicine, qualities of foods. Wonderful cures.Fate, dreams, death. The faithlessness of the world.The resurrection. 
  8. Jinns, devils and ogres. 
  9. Birds. 

  10. Animals, sea creatures, appendix on 72 demons, all illustrated, and the afflictions they bring to mankind. The demons were said to have been chained up by Solomon, but effected their escape on his death and returned to their evil ways. Possibly based on a separate work of demonology.
Yusuf wa Zulaykha of Jami  illustrated by Mohammed Rafi. Bukhara, Khorasan. 1683 AD - in Persian 
Another page of Yusuf wa Zulaykha of Jami 
Another page of Yusuf wa Zulaykha of Jami 

The colophon gives the manuscript's origin as 'the glorious city of Bukhara'. The name of the artist, Mohammed Rafi', appears under 7 of the 8 miniatures. The first miniature is signed by a painter Behzad*. The same artis's name, Mohammed Rafi,  appears in the bottom line of the gold frame of the title-page which suggests that the artist was also responsible for the illumination. 

* This Behzad is not the same as Ustad Kamaludin Behzad. Ustad Kamaludin Behzad lived in 15th century while this painter lived in 17th centruy AD. The miniature signed by him was done in 1670 AD,  long after the famous Ustad Kamaluding Behzad was death. 


  1. It depicts the Prophet's ascent to the heavens. The Prophet, his face veiled, sits on his horse, two angels are in the  background. This does not relate to the story of Yusuf wa Zulaykha , but rather to the author's own quest for inspiration in his work. 
  2. Yusuf rescued from the well by merchants. 
  3. Yusuf at the court of the Egyptian Wazir. 
  4. Yusuf with his flock of sheep. 
  5. Yusuf, at dusk, in the garden with Zulaykha's handmaidens. 
  6. Zulaykha, having been rebuffed by Yusuf, tears at his shirt as he tries to escape. 
  7. Yusuf is honored by the King of Egypt after his release from prison. 
  8. Yusuf and Zulaykha together. 
Majalis al-'Ushshaq (The Assemblies of the Lovers). Sultan Husayn Bayqara (with Kamal al-Din Husain Guzargahi). Herat, Khorasan,  17th centrury AD. - in Persian. 
Another page  of Majalis al-'Ushshaq (The Assemblies of the Lovers). 

It is a mixture of prose and poetry. The body of the work consists of 76 articles on mystics, saints and princes, including a description of the individual's passionate love. There  is some controversy surrounding the authorship of this book. In the preface of the book, Sultan Husain Bayeqra, one of the Timurid ruler (1469 - 1509) is mentioned as the author. However, two well informed contemporary personals, Prince Babur and the historian Khwandamir, attibute the work to a high ranked courtier Kamal udin Husain Guzargahi, from Guzargha of Herat. It seems that possibly both Guzargahi and Sultan was involved in this work; but how the work was shared between them remains uncertain. 


  1. Ibrahim Adham Balkhi (d. 778-9 AD) and his wife look upon their son, who has died in answer to Ibrahim's prayer. The lover of God must cut himself off from family ties. The episode is set by the Ka'ba in Mecca, which is presumably represented by the pavilion in the background. 
  2. Ahmad Ghazali (d.1130-1 AD). Seated in a garden. 
  3. The poet Sana'i of Ghazna (d.1130-1 AD) bringing with him the sheep asked for by the young butcher. He is shown barefoot - he left his shoes as a pledge with the butcher. 
  4. Ain al-Quzat Hamadani (d. 1138-9 AD), shown drinking in a meadow. 
  5. Shaikh Ahmad of Jam, known as Zhinda Pil (d.1141), sitting with the son of the governor of Nishapur. 
  6. Shaikh Auhad al-Din Kirmani (d. 1237-8 AD?). During the Sufi dance (sama') the King's son falls at the Shaikh's feet. 
  7. The poet Auhadi (d. 1337-8, date wrongly given as 1159-60). 
  8. Shaikh Shihab al-Din Yahya Suhravardi (d. 1191, wrongly given as 1180). He was given a gazelle, which he released into a meadow, and compared its beauty to that of this beloved. 
  9. Shaikh Sa'd al-Din Hamu'i (d. 1252-3, wrongly given as 1208-9). Shown with the fellow-pupil. 
  10. Ruzbihan Baqli (d.1209). He faints in the bazaar of Shiraz. 
  11. Shaikh Majd al-Din Baghdadi (d. 1210-11). 
  12. Shaikh Najm al-Din Kubra (d. 1221-2). 
  13. The legendary Shaikh San'an sees a Byzantine maiden and falls in love. 
  14. Khwaja Hasan 'Arif in a tavern with his beloved Uvais. 
  15. The poet Farid al-Din 'Attar (d. 1229-30). A dervish, begging at 'Attar's chemist's shop, reminds him that property is useless after death, and promptly expires. 'Attar abandons his worldly goods. 
  16. The poet Ibn Fariz (d.1234-5). 
  17. Aziz Nasafi. 
  18. The famous poet Maulana Jalal-al-Din Rumi (d. 1273). As he passes through the bazaar the rhythmic beating of the metal workers' hammers sends him into an ecstatic trance. One of the metal-workers, Salah al-Din, throws himself at the feet of the Shaikh. 
  19. The poet Fakr al-Din 'Iraqi (d. 1289), with a group of qalandars, or wandering dervishes. 
  20. The poet Sa'di of Shiraz (d. 1292). 
  21. The poet Amir Sayyid Husayni (d. 1318-9) with gypsies. 
  22. The poet Mahmud Shabistari (d. 1320-1). 
  23. The poet Amir Khusraw of Delhi. 
  24. Sultan Husayn Akhlati (d. 1375-6). Seated in a garden, oVered dishes of gold and jewels. 
  25. Shaikh Baha' al-Din Naqshband (d. 1389), with a Turkish soldier. 
  26. Pahlavan Mahmud Puriya, the champion wrestler. 
  27. Maulana Lutfallah Nishapuri (d. 1413-14). 
  28. The poet Hafiz of Shiraz (d. 1389-90). 
  29. Maulana Sa'd al-Din Taftazani (d. 1389-90) and his pupils. 
  30. Amir Sayyid Sharif Jurjani (d. 1413-4, wrongly given as 1394-5) and his pupils. In the lower part of the page, the poet Mohammed Shirin Maghrebi, and the Kurdish salt-seller Bayazid (accompanied by his donkey). 
  31. Kamal al-Din Khujandi (d. 1400-1). 
  32. Sayyid 'Ali Amir Makhtum (d.1429). 
  33. Khwajah Abu 'l-Vafa (d. 1431-2), with the harp-player Yazdanbakhsh. 
  34. The poet Qasim al-Anvar (d. 1433-4) in the desert. 
  35. Amir Sayyid 'Imad al-Din (d. 1417-8). 
  36. Sharaf al-Din 'Ali Yazdi (d. 1454). 
  37. Amir Sayyid Hakimi (d.1476-7). 
  38. Shaikh Dad 'Umar Raushani (d. 1485-6). 
  39. Maulana Husayn Khwarazmi (d. 1435-6). 

  40. Amir Isma'il Gilaki (d. 1125-6)
Kitab Mizan al-Hikmah (Book of the Balance of Wisdom), on weights and measures of al-Khazini, Marv, Khorasan. 1270 AD - in Arabic 
Another page of Kitab Mizan al-Hikmah
Another page of Kitab Mizan al-Hikmah

This book is composed by Abu al Fath (or Abd al Rahman) al Khazini of Marv, Khorasan. The book was completed in 1121 AD and dedicated to the ruler of Khorasan Abu al-Harith Sanjar bin Malikshah bin Alp-Arlsan who ruled Khorasan from 1097 to 1157 AD. 

This book covers topics on mechanics and hydrostatics. It also presents an important history of statics and hydrostatics among Greeks and Arabs and provides extensive quotations and summaries of treatises by earlier writers on the subject, some of which are otherwise lost. The earilier writers of the subjects discussed in this treatise are the Greek and Arab as well as Tajik writers. They are Archimedes, Euclid, Menelaus, Pappus, and the Muslim scholars al-Quhi , Razi, Biruni, Isfizari,  and Khayyam.  The treatise consists of an historical introduction in six sections and eight books.The contents of the eight books are: 

  1. Theories of centres of gravity and the fundamentals of weighing according to Greek and Arabic scholars. 
  2. Continued discourse on centres of gravity as well as the mechanism of the steelyard. 
  3. The densities of various metals and precious stones according to Biruni. 
  4. The balances described by various Greek and Arabic scholars. 
  5. The water-balance of Umar Khayyam. 
  6. The Comprehensive Balance and the determination of the constituents of alloys. 
  7. The Weights of coinage. 
  8. The steelyard clepsydra. 
The topics mostly covers hydrostatics, in particular the determination of specific gravities by using the Archimedean principle of flotation. The equipment required to obtain accurate results such as the aerometer (i.e., hydrometer) of Pappus useful for determining the specific gravities of liquids, and instruments for determining the specific gravities of metals, precious stones, and alloys are discussed in detail. Procedures are established to detect fraud and impurities. Khazini recorded the specific gravities of 50 substances (9 metals, 10 precious stones, 13 non-precious solids, and 18 liquids) with impressively accurate results using Biruni's conical instrument which is also illustrated in this book.The last three books are concerned with the Balance of Wisdom or the 'Comprehensive Balance' (illustrated in the manuscript), which had been developed by a near contemporary, Muzaffar bin Isma'il of Herat. 

For further information on al-Khazini see the following: 

R.E. Hall, 'Khazini' in the Dictionary of Scientific Biography, vol. 7 (1973), pp. 335-51 
Donald R.Hill, Islamic Science and Engineering, Edinburgh University Press 1993, pp. 60-70; 
M. Rozhanskaya (in collaboration with I.S.Levinova), 'Statics' in Encyclopaedia of Arabic Science, ed. R. Rashed (3 vols., London 1996), vol. 2, pp. 614-42. 
See D.A. King, World-maps for finding the direction and distance to Mecca, Brill 1999).Khazini had ompiled astronomical tables and a treatise on astronomical instruments. 

The Drops of the Spring of Life (ayn al-hayat) by Fakhr al-Din 'Ali, known  as Safi Rashahat. Sabzavar of Herat, Khorasan. Late 15th or earyly 16th  century AD. 
Another page from the The Drops of the Spring of Life 

This book was composted by Fakhr al-Din 'Ali, also known as Safi. He was born and raised in Herat and his mother was sister of the famous poet Jami. He visited Samarqand to study with Sufis there. This visit occurred between December  of 1484 and April of 1488. 

A complete record of this book is available and shows that it was in the library of three successive Mughal emperors. It has the seal of Hamida Bunu, the mother of the Emperor Akbar, dated 1550 AD. In the year 1603, this book was passed to the library of the Emperor Akbar. It has been annotated by Akbar's librarian Mulla Ali and then by Itimad al Dawlah, the librarian of Shah Jahangir. The occasions on which the emperors looked at the book were recorded on the book. There are a lot of seal impressions, both individual and official, handwritten noets of when and by whom the book was seen. 

Manuscript of Quran from Herat, Khorasan 1425 - 50 AD. 
Khusrau and Shirin from the Khamsa of Nezami. segment of Nezami's Khamseh, a 12th-century dramatic poem. 

This miniature (1485), by the Herat calligrapher and artist Mirak Naqqash, illustrates a scene from the "Khusrau and Shirin" segment of Nezami's Khamseh, a 12th-century dramatic poem. Naqqash's work, in its precise execution and unified design, exemplifies the Herat style of manuscript illumination. 

A page from the The Canon of Medicine by Ibn Sina of Balkh (Avicenna) 
Another page from the The Canon of Medicine by Ibn Sina of Balkh (Avicenna) 

The book of Qanun fi'l - Tibb (The Canon of Medicin) was written by the greate Tajik Ibn Sina of Balkh. It is regarded as  "the most influential single text in the history of medicine." This particular manuscript was copied by Muhammad bin Mansur bin Khalifa bin Minhal. in Cairo around 1129 AD. This book has 318 leaves 39 lines per page, in a clear naskhi script on buff paper. Significant words and phrases written in red, marginal glosses throughout. Title page illuminated with a rectangular panel of bold foliate scrolls in gold with the title written in muhaqqaq script. 

A page from the Kitab Jabr wal Muqabala Of  Khwarizmi. Khorasan. 9th century. It is one of the oldest books on agebra written In Arabic.
A painting from Herat, Khorasan, 1400 AD. 
The Fable of the Four Friends from Kalila and Damna. 1420 AD. 
The King and the Wonderful  Bird from Kalila and Damna. 1480 AD.
The Garden of Sultan Hussain Bayqara by Behzad. Herat, Khorasan. 1480  AD.
In a garden pavilion 16th century. This painting most probably done in Herat. It belongs to the the school of Herat. 
A world map by our great Tajik Biruni. It depicts the distribution of land and sea. 1029 AD. It has a diameter of 9.5 cm and oriented with South at top. Can you find our land, Khorasan on this map?
A world map by Balkhi with climate boundaries. Balkh, 816 AD. The South is oriented at the top. 
A world map by Ibn Hawqal. This copy is from 1445 AD with South oriented at the top. He is probably Arab. 
He was born in Nisibis Iraq and spent much of his life traveling (15 May 943 to 973). Can you find our land, Khorasan on this map?
A world map by Ibn Wardi. 1001 AD. It has a diameter of 16.5 cm and the South is oriented at the top. Ibn Wardi was probably Arab. 
Another world map by Ibn Wardi, 17th century copy. Again our country, Khorasan is there. Can you place it?
A world map by al Idrisi. He was Arab. On this map which is oriented with South at the top, our land, Khorasan is clearly visible.  804/1154/1456 AD.
A world map by al Istakhr II. 934 AD. He was Arab.On this map which is oriented with South at the top, our land, Khorasan is clearly visible.  Can you find our land, Khorasan on this map?
Another world map by al Istakhri  II, 934 AD. Reconstructed (Reinaud via Needham). This map is oriented with North at the top. Notice the name of our land Khorasan. Today's Aral Sea was called as Lake of Khorasan. 
Another world map by al Istakhri II. It is oriented with South at the top. Again our land Khorasan is clearly depicted in this map. This copy is either of the year 977 or 1570 AD.
A world map by al Kashgari from the Diwan lughat al Turk, 1076 AD. The Tajik's land of Khorasan is marked and mentioned clearly. 


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