Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

King's Pote 213 (King's College Library, King's College Cambridge)

Pote Collection


Summary of Contents: 1 copy of Zayn al-Akhbār.

Note concerning author: al-Gurdīzī was a student of the celebrated Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī.

Language(s): Persian

Colophon details: Date: 1093 / 1682 Scribe: Anonymous.

Colophon further notes: This date is conjectured. It looks very much as if the colophon was added later - and the hand is very similar to that of the ownership note on f.1r, dated 27 Muḥammad Shāh (i.e. 1158). The colophon has 93 and below that 12. Could that mean 1093? But that is not the 12th year of any Mughal emperor. It is more likely a signature of an annotator, "Mullah 12" (meaning perhaps ḥadd, "the end"), which is found in other manuscripts . There is also a ṣād which could imply the annotator is stating that the date 93 (meaning 1093?) is correct. Storey reports the date as 1093. Barthold (1906), p.174, reads the date as 930 (1524) saying the numbers are partly obliterated. The only other copy Bodleian Ouseley 240 was copied in 1196 and very possibly from the King's copy. Ethe noted that the (incomplete) Bodleian copy was probably copied for Jonathan Scott, whose name is written on the first page. This would fit with it being copied from the King's ms which at that time would have been in Polier's collection (and we know Scott visited Polier in Lucknow). There has been much scholarly debate on the date in the colophon, much less over the hand. In his 1968 edition of Zayn al-akhbār ʿA. Ḥ. Ḥabībī (following Qazwini) reads the date as either 903 (1497-8) or 930 (1523-4). A discussion of various readings of the date (930, 1093 and either 903 or 930) can be found in V. Minorsky, "Gardizi in India", BSOAS vol. 12 (1948), pp.625-6. Minorsky thought the hand was 16th or 17th century which would argue in favour of 930 or 1093.

Note concerning manuscript: Ff.54r-57r: a table with regnal dates for numerous named rulers.

Note concerning work: An extremely important manuscript. Browne describes this as a very rare and valuable historical and ethnological work. A microfilm of the ms is available according to a note on the cover. There is an edition of Zayn al-akhbār by ʿA. Ḥ. Ḥabībī (Tehran, 1347/1968). This manuscript remains the only one known apart from Bodleian Ouseley 240 which was probably copied from it for Jonathan Scott when King's 213 was in the possession of Polier.


Catalogue of the Persian, Turkish, Hindûstânî, and Pushtû Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library E. Sachau and H. Ethé 1889 col.9, no.15 [Bodl. Ouseley 240]
Persian Literature: a bio-bibliographical survey C. A. Storey 1927–39 I.1 p.66 (defective; 1093H; Bodleian copied from it?)

Physical Description

Form: codex
Extent: 209 folios.
Dimensions (leaf): 24 × 13.5 cm.
Dimensions (written): 16.8 × 7.5 cm.
Foliation: Foliated.


Water damage in ff.187-209. F.209r: a snippet of the final folio is pasted onto a larger sheet.


19 lines per page.

Ruled in reddish brown until f.194 (after which there are no rulings). Red rubrications.


Script: Indian nastaʿlīq. Quality: Good. Scribe: Anonymous.


A note in English has been attached to the upper doublure. Tucked prior to the first page is a typed letter in response to Virgilio Pontecorvo (Italian Embassy, Ceylon) from the librarian, dated August 1966 (with permission to publish). F.1r: numerous notes in nastaʿlīq and shikasta, some with red overlining. 2 rectangular seals of Polier. A purchase note in shikasta is dated 14 Rabīʿ I, year 27 of Muḥammad Shāhi (i.e. 1158 so 16 Apr 1745). Polier's seal partly covers the top right of the note. Also on f.1r: three quatrains in the hand of the scribe [this is almost certainly wrong], ūwo of which were composed by the scribe himself and third was by Ḥakīm Rukna (Rukn al-dīn Masʿud) with the pen name Masīḥ Kāshī who died in 1066 (this information from the much-criticized edition of Muḥammad Nāzim, Berlin, 1928). However, Qazwīnī (1921) argued it is more probable these verses, were added by a later owner. (And they do not even seem to be in a single hand). So this can not be used to help date the manuscript. The codex contains marginal notes in red and in black.

Notes concerning codex: A note attached to the upper doublure includes a comment signed "A. R. B." dated 5.3.1913: "A copy of the ms. is in the Bodleian Library. After collating the K.C. copy in March 1913, Dr [E.D.] Ross (Calcutta) and Prof. [E.G.] Browne (Cambridge) state that without doubt it is the original ms, and the Bodleian a copy". There follows a comment signed E.G. Browne: "For description of the Bodl. ms. see Ethe's cat. of the Persian mss in that library, pp. 9-11. Morley called mention to the King's ms. as early as 1868 in J.R.A.S. iii (new series) p.120. See Barthold's "Zeitschriften der Saffariden" in Prof. Noldeke's Festschrift (2nd March 1906), p. 173, no. 5 ...".


European tan coloured leather, European style. Plain paper doublures. Condition: The spine is torn. The binding is very loose. Dimensions: 24.7 × 13.4 × 3.5 cm. Unboxed. Polier's number: 529.


Origin: 1093 AH; 1682 CE

Provenance and Acquisition

The "Pote Collection" arrived in England from India in 1790 and was divided between the Colleges of Eton and King's, Cambridge, with the first half alphabetically going to King's. Both halves of the collection are now housed in Cambridge University Library on permanent loan. Most if not all of the manuscripts had previously been owned by Colonel Antoine-Louis Henri Polier (1741–1795).

Gift of Edward Ephraim Pote (d.1832) in 1788.

Record Sources


All manuscripts of the Pote Collection are on permanent loan at Cambridge University Library. Entry to read in the Library is permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card for admissions procedures consult Cambridge University Library. Contact near_eastern@lib.cam.ac.uk for further information on the availability of this manuscript

Funding of Cataloguing

King's College Cambridge


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