Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 388 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: A second, probably incomplete volume, from a set of the Rawz̤at al-Ṣafā (Garden of Purity), a general history from the creation of the world to the time of the author, together with Persian MS 387, 389, 390, 391, 392, 393, and 394. While uniformly bound, the variant dimensions, formats and colophons within the set indicate that former owner George William Hamilton (1807–1868) assembled it together from disparate volumes completed in various locations and at different times.
Language(s): Persian
Colophon: برگ ۳۷۸ر (folio 378a): تمام شد جلد دویم از هفت جلد کتاب روضة الصفاء حب الارشاد معلی القاب جناب کرنیل جارج ولیم هملتین بهادر در دام اجالاله بمقام شهیر ملتان دافعه بست(؟) دویم ماه دسمبر سنه ۱۸۶۱ عیسوی ترقیم یافت. راقمه بنده‌ٔ درگاه اله پندت بشمبر ناته عفی عنه خلف پندت شیو ناته سرگباش وکیل نواب احمد بخش خان بهادر نصرت جنگ خیر خواه سرکار کمپنی.
Colophon: The scribe, Pandit Bishambar Nath, states he completed the end the volume for former owner George William Hamilton (1807-1868), evidently to restore it, in Multan on 2 December 1862 CE. He adds that he previously assisted ‘the late Pandit Shiv Nath, vakīl (representative) of Aḥmad Bakhsh Khān Bahādur Nuṣrat Jang (r. 1803–1827)’, who founded the princely state of Loharu, Punjab in 1803.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Text block comprised of medium-weight, heavily flocked, butter-coloured, sized and polished paper, possibly handmade in India, with folios 339 to 378 comprised of highly-polished, cross-grained, blue tinted paper, also likely made in India.
Extent: 378 folios (ff. iv + 378 + i)
Dimensions (leaf): 309 × 168 mm.
Dimensions (written): 230 × 126 mm.

Foliation marked at top-right corners of the a sides in Hindu-Arabic numerals in black ink, with corrections, that apprently continue from a prior volume, now lost.

Foliation: Modern pencilled Arabic numerals on the upper-right corners of the a sides by the cataloguer.


Undetermined. Catchwords written written on the lower-left corners on the b sides throughout.


In fair condition. Extensive staining, insect damage, and historical repairs throughout.


Written in 1 column, with 24 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Written primarily in a clear nasta‘līq hand in black, with subheaders in red, but in several different hands.

Table of Contents: Written upon the second to fourth right flyleaves (ff. iia–ivb), probably in the hand of Muhīn Dās, who assisted former owner Colonel George William Hamilton.
  • Inspection notices on folio 1a, one obliterated at top, and another library accession note dated 10 Rabī‘ al-Avvāl 1262 AH (9 Mar. 1846 CE) at bottom:

    ‘ بتاریخ دهم ربیع الاول سنه ۱۲۶۲ هجری بکتابخانه رسید ’

  • Underneath, a brief, undated note by one Muḥammad Sa‘īd states that he offered or gifted it:
    ‘ بابت محمد سعید ’
  • Another brief note on folio 1a by one Kūhaṭ Kalān:
    ‘ آمدنی کوهٹ کلان ’
Bookplates: The left pastedown: ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with pencilled shelfmark ‘1/C’, and ‘Hamilton MSS No. 305’ with the name and number crossed out and ‘Persian’ and ‘388’ written aside.


Uniformly rebound in a hybrid British-Indian style in India, together with the other volumes in full red goatskin leather over pasteboards, without a flap (type III binding per Déroche), as a set for former owner Colonel George William Hamilton.

322 × 188 × 67 mm.

Handle with caution. In fair condition. Due to due to cross-grained papers and stiff spine linings, the text block opens tightly to the gutter, with the exterior binding abraded.


Three library seals of the kings of Awadh (Oude), intaglio-carved in nasta‘līq script in two stacked lines and impressed in vermillion ink on folio 1a, with another small seal impressed at top-right on folio 1b.

  • 1: Rectangular seal impression ofthe library of Nāṣir al-Dīn Ḥaydar Shāh (1803–1837), King of Awadh (r. 1827–1837) dated 1244 AH (1828–29 CE), inscribed with his title Sulaymān Jāh:

    ‘ خوش است مهر کتبخانه سلیمان جاه * بهر کتاب مزین چو نقش بسم الله، ١٢۴۴’

    Khvush ast muhur-i kitābkhānah-'i Sulaymān Jāh bahr-i kitāb; muzayyin chaw naqsh-i basmallah, 1244 ’ (‘The seal of the library of Sulaymān Jāh is good; it embellishes the book like the design of a basmallah, 1244 AH [1828–29 CE]’).

    17 × 37 mm.

  • 2: Rectangular seal impression surmounted by the royal emblem of Awadh, of Amjad ‘Alī Shāh (1801–1847), King of Awadh (r. 1842–1847) dated 1260 AH (1844–45 CE):

    ‘ ناسخ هر مهر شد چون شد مزین بر کتاب * خاتم امجد علی شاه زمان عالیجناب، ١٢٦٠ ’

    Nāsukh har muhur shud chun shud muzayyin bar kitāb; khātim-i Amjad ‘Alī Shāh zamān-i ‘Ālījanāb, 1260’ (‘Every [prior] seal became cancelled since the book became embellished by the seal of Amjad ‘Alī Shāh in the era of his Sublime Majesty, 1260 AH [1844–45 CE]’).

    53 × 45 mm.

  • 3: Rectangular seal impression surmounted by the royal emblem Awadh, of Wājid ‘Alī Shāh (1822–1887), King of Awadh (r. 1847–1856) dated 1262 AH (1846–47 CE):

    ‘ خاتم واجد علی سلطان عالم بر کتاب * ثابت و پر نور بادا تا فروغ آفتاب، ١٢۶۲ ’

    Khātim-i Wājid ‘Alī, Sulṭān-i ‘Ālam bar kitāb, s̄abit va pur nūr bādā tā farūgh-i āftāb, 1262’ (‘The seal of Wājid ‘Alī, Sulṭān of the World, upon the book shall be permanent and as bright as sunlight, 1262 AH [1847 CE]’).

    41 × 26 mm.

  • 4: Folios 1b bear an square seal impression, partly damaged at tope, intaglio carved in nasta‘līq script, stacked in three lines, double-ruled, of probable former owner or associate Nāṣir [al-]Dīn Ḥaqq Ḥusayn ‘Alī with a partial date of ‘118[?]’, hence between from 1180–89 AH (1766–76 CE).

    15 × 15 mm.


Origin: Probably the Indian subcontinent; undated but possibly mid-18th to early 19th century. Final folios 339 to 378 subsequently completed by the scribe Pandit Bishambar Nath at the behest of former owner Colonel George William Hamilton .

Provenance and Acquisition

Previously owned or inspected by an unidentified person named Nāṣir [al-]Dīn Ḥaqq Ḥusayn ‘Alī, as per his seal impression on folio 1b dated from 1180–9 AH (1766–76 CE). Brief, undated notations on folio 1a states that Muḥammad Sa‘īd presented or offered it, possibly to Nāṣir al-Dīn Ḥaydar Shāh (1803–1837, r. 1827–1837), with another note by one Kūhaṭ Kalān, perhaps pertaining to its acquisition by the royal library of Awadh.

Subsequently held in the royal library of Awadh in Lucknow, as indicated by dated library notations on folio 1a, and seal impressions of the Kings of Awadh Nāṣir al-Dīn Ḥaydar Shāh (1803–1837, r. 1827–1837), Amjad ‘Alī Shāh (1801–1847, r. 1842–1847), and Wājid ‘Alī Shāh (1822–1887), King of Awadh (r. 1847–1856). Very likely looted during India's First War of Independence, when British soldiers presumably ransacked the royal palace and library on 15 March 1858.

Subsequently acquired by Colonel George William Hamilton (1807-1868) who served in India from 1823 to 1867, latterly as Commissioner in Delhi. He acquired over a thousand Indian and Persian manuscripts from which the British Museum selected 352 after his death, now held in the British Library.

Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford (1812–1880), purchased the remainder in 1868.

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

Bequeathed by Enriqueta Rylands (1843–1908) in 1908 to the John Rylands Library.

Record Sources

Bibliographical description based on an index created by Reza Navabpour circa 1993, derived from a manuscript catalogue by Michael Kerney, circa 1890s, concisely published as Bibliotheca Lindesiana, Hand-list of Oriental Manuscripts: Arabic, Persian, Turkish in 1898.

Manuscript description by Jake Benson in 2021 with reference to the volume in hand, and in consultation with Prof Mahmood Alam, English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, regarding the colophon and scribe.


To book an in-person or online appointment to consult the manuscript, visit Using the Special Collections Reading Rooms. For any other enquiries please email uml.special-collections@manchester.ac.uk.

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute


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