Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 396 (The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: The second of two volumes of Hasht Bihisht (Eight Paradises), which chronicles the reigns of the fifth through eighth Ottoman sultans to the author's patron, Beyazid II (1447–1512, r. 1481–1512). The author, Idrīs Bitlīsī (d. 1520), served the Ottoman Sultans Beyazid II (1447–1512, r. 1481–1512) and Selim I (1470–1520; r. 1512–20) as an administrator throughout the empire. In the final section, the author relates particularly valuable eyewitness accounts that occurred during Beyazid II's reign. Most notably, his work departs from prior historians who emphasized the Sultans' Turkic heritage, instead recasting them in the tradition of non-Turkic Islamic heroes, especially Alexander the Great. This manuscript was completed by Muḥammad Yūsuf Shīrāzī, possibly in Shiraz, on Thursday, the beginning of Ṣafar 1063 AH (beginning of January 1653 CE), and was originally bound together with Persian MS 395.
Incipit: برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): لوحهٔ نوریست ز لوح قدیم * یسمله عنوان کتاب خداست.
Explicit: برگ ۳۰۲ر (folio 302a): خلق و خالق همهٔ ازو راضی * باد مستقبلش به از ماضی
Colophon: برگ ۳۰۲ر (folio 302a): تمت الکتاب بعون الله الملک الوهاب فی یوم الخمیس غرهٔ شهر صفر خبر اثر سنه ثلاث وستین بعد الالف من الهجریه النبویه ۱۶۳[۱] کتبه الفقیر الحقیر محمد یوسف شیرازی غفر له
Colophon: Completed by Muḥammad Yūsuf Shīrāzī on Thursday, the beginning of Ṣafar 1063 AH (beginning of January 1653 CE)

The text on folio 1a is actually the very end of the text of Persian MS 395, Chapter 3. It was separated when the original single volume was split and rebound as two.

Language(s): Persian

Uniform with Persian MS 396.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Written on straight-grain, thin, buff-coloured handmade paper manufactured in the Islamic world, with ~1 mm between laid lines and occasionally discernible chain lines.
Extent: 302 folios (i + 302 + i)
Dimensions (leaf): 271 × 159 mm.
Dimensions (written): 208 × 108 mm.
Foliation: Pencilled Arabic numerals inscribed on the upper-left corners of the a sides when catalogued.


Primarily quaternions throughout, but oversewn between folios 50–66, 82–97, 121–152, and 222–237. Catchwords throughout on the lower left corners of the b sides.


In fair condition. Handle with care. The textblock is split between folios 130–31.


Written in 1 to 3 columns with 21 lines per page. Ruled with a miṣṭarah.


Primarily written in nasta‘liq script in black ink, with subheadings in red, written in nasta‘liq and naskh scripts.


Illumination: Headpieces on folios 1b, 84b, and 184b. Marginal ruling throughout in gold outlined in thin single and double black lines, surrounded by red and blue lines.

  • Inscription: on the right flyleaf is a statement of ownership by George William Hamilton: سه ۳ دفتر از کتاب هشت بهشت کرنیل جارج ولیم هملتن صاحب بهادر
  • Bookplates: left paste-down, Bibliotheca Lindesiana and Hamilton MSS No. 313.


Resewn on a single flat support put down on the interior of the pasteboards, with twined Islamic-style endbands in red silk and silver threads. Rebound in a hybrid British-Indian style tight-backed in smooth dark red goatskin leather without a flap (type III binding per Déroche), with squares. The spine and perimeters of the boards are dyed brown, and the boards feature gilt onlays with scalloped central mandorlas, detached pendants, and corners surrounded by a boarder of gilt insular dots, with yellow ruling criss-crossing the central decoration and surrounding the inner borders and outer margins. A paper label on the spine bears the title written in nasta‘liq script in black ink. Board interiors are lined with European schrotel-patterned marbled papers. The same tools were used on Persian MS 395 and Persian MS 396.

279 × 167 × 43 mm.

Accompanying Material

A loose bifolium inserted at front records the table of contents in Persian.


Origin: Possibly Shiraz; completed by Muḥammad Yūsuf Shīrāzī on Thursday, the beginning of Ṣafar, 1063 AH (beginning of January, 1653 CE), as furnished in the colophon.

Provenance and Acquisition

Formerly owned 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 of which 352 were selected after his death for the British Museum that are now held in the British Library.

The remainder were purchased in 1868 by 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 (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 handlist by Michael Kerney, circa 1890s and his Bibliotheca Lindesiana, Hand-list of Oriental Manuscripts: Arabic, Persian, Turkish, 1898.

Manuscript description by Jake Benson in 2021 with reference to the volume.


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


Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation and The John Rylands Research Institute


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