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Manuscript/Mixed Material Bal'ami's Persian translation of al-Tabari's "Ta'rikh"

About this Item


  • Bal'ami's Persian translation of al-Tabari's "Ta'rikh"

Created / Published

  • 13th-14th centuries


  • -  Calligraphy, Arabic
  • -  Calligraphy, Persian
  • -  Manuscripts, Arabic--Washington (D.C.)
  • -  Iran
  • -  Afghanistan
  • -  Uzbekistan
  • -  Tajikistan
  • -  Arabic script calligraphy
  • -  Illuminated Islamic manuscripts
  • -  Islamic calligraphy
  • -  Islamic manuscripts
  • -  Persian naskh


  • -  Persian Naskh script, a page from Bal'ami's Persian translation of al-Tabari's "Ta'rikh" from the Il-Khanid period from Persia/Central Asia.
  • -  Bal'ami's Persian version of Tabari's "Ta'rikh" has been translated into French by Hermann Zotenberg: see "Chronique de Abou Djafar Mohammed-ben-Djarir-ben-Yezid Tabari, traduite sur la version persane d'Abou-Ali Mohammed Bel`ami, d'après les manuscrits de Paris, de Gotha, de Londres et de Canterbury" (Paris: Imprimerie Impériale, 1867-1874).
  • -  Because this fragment bears Bal'ami's introduction and thus marks the beginning of the manuscript, the text is framed on both sides by an illuminated border. The frames are decorated with gold flowers with blue spots on a pure gold background. On the top and bottom horizontal frames appear praises to God, Muhammad, and Muhammad's family and his companions, executed in white ink and framed by blue panels decorated with gold flowers. The main text is executed in black ink in an old Persian naskh (cursive) script typical of works produced during Ilkhanid rule (1256-1353) in Iran. At least one contemporary illustrated copy of al-Bal'ami's history made in Mosul circa 1300 AD is now held in the Freer Gallery in Washington D.C. (acc. no. F 1957.16, 1930.21 and 1947.19).
  • -  Dimensions of Written Surface: Recto: 20.0 (h) x 17.7 (w) cm. Dimensions of Written Surface: Verso: 29 (h) x 21.3 (w) cm
  • -  The first two pages of text on the recto of this fragment include a lengthy encomium to God, His power, and His creations. This is followed by an encomium in Arabic to the author's patron, the Samanid King of Khurasan and Transoxiana, al-Mansur b. Nuh b. Ahmad b. Isma'il, for whom Bal'ami translated the work into Persian. The author states at the conclusion of his preface that "we have transcribed in this work the history of the world, everything that is said about astronomers and that which is said about the Zoroastrians, Christians, Jews, and Christians." The third section, which begins at the lower part of the left side of the recto and continues on the right side of the fragment's verso, glorifies God's power to create, citing numerous verses from the Qur'an picked out in red ink.
  • -  The left page includes a number of a posteriori reader's notes. At the top appears an ex-libris (min kutub) mark, which states that the book belonged to a certain Muhammad [...] 'Abd Khawajaga, who dated his mark 1214/1800 (?). Unfortunately, both the former book's owner and the date were smeared at a later date.
  • -  The page on the right contains the continuation of an encomium to God's creative powers, interspersed with Arabic prayers picked out in red ink, followed by the third section of the work which addresses various scientists' opinions on the duration of the world (al-qawl fi miqdar muddat al-dunya). In this section, the length of the world's existence from the time of Adam until the Day of Resurrection is calculated according to a variety of opinions, including those of Aristotle and Hippocrates. Bal'ami notes that some scholars believe that the duration of the world is 7000 years.
  • -  This fragment contains the beginning pages of the historical encyclopedia entitled "Ta'rikh al-Rusul wa-al-Muluk" (History of Prophets and Kings) composed in Arabic by the celebrated historian al-Tabari (d. 310/923), later abridged and translated into Persian in 963 AD by the writer Bal'ami. The verso of this fragment (1-85-154.69 V) continues the first two pages and includes a later note identifying the work as the "Histories of Tabari in Persian" (tawarikh-i Tabari-yi farsi). The work includes a history of kings and dynasties from pre-Islamic times to the prophecy of Muhammad, as well as early Islamic history.
  • -  Script: Persian naskh
  • -  1-85-154.69


  • 1 volume ; 38.8 (h) x 53.0 (w) x cm


  • Library of Congress African and Middle Eastern Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Digital Id

Library of Congress Control Number

  • 2019714509

Online Format

  • pdf
  • image

Additional Metadata Formats

IIIF Presentation Manifest

Rights & Access

The contents of the Library of Congress Selections of Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Calligraphy are in the public domain or have no known copyright restrictions and are free to use and reuse.

Credit Line: Library of Congress, African and Middle East Division, Near East Section Persian Manuscript Collection

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Chicago citation style:

Bal'ami's Persian translation of al-Tabari's "Ta'rikh". 13th-14th Centuries. Manuscript/Mixed Material.

APA citation style:

Bal'ami's Persian translation of al-Tabari's "Ta'rikh". 13th-14th Centuries. [Manuscript/Mixed Material] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Bal'ami's Persian translation of al-Tabari's "Ta'rikh". 13th-14th Centuries. Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.