Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 913 (The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts

Collectio 183 Epistolarum variis annis conscriptarum ad Viros toto Oriente celeberrimos Apollines Linguae Arabicae Thomam Erpenium Jacobum Golium & alios etc. etc. Arabice Turcice Persice


Summary of Contents: This collection of letters and documents written in Arabic, Ottoman Turkish, Persian, and Ternatean languages. encompasses correspondence spaning 20 Ramaḍān 997 AH (3 August 1589 CE) to 6 Jumādà II 1123 (22 July 1711 CE) that primarily pertains to several early orientalist scholars at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Most appear addressed to or sent by Jacob de Gool, known as 'Golius' (1596–1667), as well as Tomas van Erpe, known as 'Erpenius' (1584–1624). Another collection concerns early 18th-century Dutch soap merchant and resident of Acre, Paul Maashoek (d. 1711). Early 18th-century scholar Johannes Johannes Wilhelmus Jacob Heyman (d. 1737) compiled the letters together in two scrapbook albums, with the companion volume, UBL Cod. Or. 1228, now held in the Leiden University Library.

Language(s): Arabic, Ottoman Turkish, Persian, Ternatean, Latin, French and Dutch.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Extent: 240 separate items bound in 1 volume.
Dimensions (leaf): 400 × 270 mm.
Foliation: Items numbered 1-239 (112 occurs twice) from right to left, including a number of folded items bearing two numbers. Earlier numbering in Western style (from left to right) from 1–183; however, this sequence omit several items, likely added at a later date, and one also bears two numbers. The documents do not appear systematically arranged.


Scrabook album with paper stubs. Since the pastedowns appear sewn with them, the binder probably prepared a blank book comprised of sexternions, then afterwards cut the pages to the stubs before mounting the documents.


Caution advised when handling. Generally good condition, with some tears and breaks.




Sewn all along on four vellum supports put down onto the pasteboards. Since the endpapers appear sewn with the stubs, the binder likely created a blank book then someone cut the pages out to form compensation guards and extended stubs to attached the documents in the gutters. Covered in a stationery style in half sheepskin with gray shell-patterned marbled paper sides. (NB: Leiden University Library UBL Cod. Or. 1228 originally featured a similar stationery binding but does not appear to be an exact mate. Whether the compiler had both bound at the same time remains to be determined).

430 × 268 × 58 mm.

Binding in poor condition. Leather degraded, grain layer largely worn (hence Schmidt describes it as 'chamois'), headcaps missing at head and tail.


Origin: Comprising documents dated 20 Ramaḍān 997 AH (3 August 1589 CE) to 6 Jumādà II 1123 (22 July 1711 CE), collected by Johannes Johannes Wilhelmus Jacob Heyman (d. 1737) in the early 1700s, together with other related documents now held in the Leiden University Library, UBL Or. 1228). Their chaotic arrangement suggests people unfamiliar with the languages mounted the documents into the volumes, perhaps Heyman's heirs. As well as Heyman's own papers, the volume also contains papers acquired by him from the Dutch orientalists Thomas Erpenius and Jacob Golius.

Provenance and Acquisition

Subsequently acquired by scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865), after whose death his oriental manuscripts were sold by Bernard Quaritch (1819–1899) in 1866 to Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford (1812–1880).

Purchased by Enriqueta Rylands (1843–1908) in 1901 from James Ludovic Lindsay, 26th Earl of Crawford (1847–1913).

Bequeathed by Enriqueta Rylands in 1908 to the John Rylands Library.

Additional Information

Record Sources

Catalogue information extracted by Elizabeth Gow and Nil Palabıyık from Jan Schmidt, A Catalogue of the Turkish Manuscripts in the John Rylands University Library at Manchester. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2011.

Emended and enhanced by Jake Benson in 2021 with reference to the manuscript.


The manuscript is available for consultation, see Becoming a Reader for details. Please contact uml.special-collections@manchester.ac.uk for further information on the availability of this manuscript.


    See this manuscript on Fihrist
    Rashā' al-Khaṭīb, Aḥmad b. Qāsim al-Ḥajarī al-Andalusī 'Afūqāy': al-Mutarjim wa al-Raḥḥāla wa al-Safīr. (Beirut: al-Mu'assasah al-'Arabiyah li-al-Dirāsāt wa al-Nashr, 2018): pp. 129–131; Appendix: pp. 144-145, 148-149.
    Rashā' al-Khaṭīb, 'Jama‘ al-Makhṭūṭāt al-‘Arabīyah fī Ḍū' Maktabāt al-Mustashriqīn ma‘a Muthaqqafī Ḥalab q. 11 H./17 M. (Collecting Arabic Manuscripts in the light of Correspondences between Orientalists and Aleppo`s Intellectuals, 11th AH/17th CE)' Majallat Ma‘had al-al-Makhṭūṭāt al-‘Arabīyah (Journal of The Institute of Arabic Manuscripts, Vol. 65, No. 1 (May, 2021): pp. 76–136.
    Hilary Kilpatrick and Gerald Toomer, ‘Niqulawus al-Halabi (c.1611-c.1661): a Greek Orthodox Syrian Copyist and his Letters to Pococke and Golius', Lias. Journal of Early Modern Intellectual Culture and Its Sources Vol. 43, No. 1 (2016): pp. 1-160.
    Victor Louis Ménage and Colin Imber, Ottoman Historical Documents: The Institutions of an Empire. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press 2021.
    J. Reychman, A. Zajączkowski, A. S. Ehrenkreutz, and T. Halasi-Kun, Handbook of Ottoman-Turkish Diplomatics. The Hague: Mouton, 1968.
    Jan Schmidt, ‘An Ostrich Egg for Golius: the John Rylands MS Persian 913 and the History of Early Modern Contacts between the Dutch Republic and the Islamic World’ in Schmidt (ed.), The Joys of Philology: Studies in Ottoman Literature, History and Orientalism (1500–1923), Vol. 1 (Istanbul: Isis Press, 2002), pp. 9-74.
    Jan Just Witkam, Inventory of the Oriental Manuscripts of the Library of the University of Leiden, Vol. 2. (Leiden: Ter Lugt, 2007), pp. 73–86 [Leiden Or. 1228].

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation and The John Rylands Research Institute


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