Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

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

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: The second of two volumes of Hasht Bihisht (Eight Paradises) by Idrīs Bidlīsī (d. 1520), originally comprised a single manuscript bound together with Persian MS 395. The complete work chronicles the reigns of the first eight Ottoman sultans, ending with Sultan Beyazid II (b. 1447, r. 1481–1512), who the author served as an administrator in various locations throughout the empire. The final section relates particularly valuable eyewitness accounts that occurred during his patron's reign. Most notably, his richly nuanced, ornate Persian prose literary style interspersed with lines of poetry dramatically departs from works by prior Ottoman historians. A scribe named Muḥammad Yūsuf Shīrāzī completed this manuscript in Ṣafar 1063 AH (January 1653 CE).
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)

Former owner Colonel George William Hamilton mentions the work in two letters addressed to the Scientific Society, Aligarh, dated 1 Jan. and 2 Feb. 1864 in which he urges its publication, although he describes it as ‘...a large book of 650 leaves or 1300 pages, and the printing of it would be expensive’ (see 'Proceedings of the Scientific Society, 12th of March 1864'). While it appears that his wish never came to fruition, his description of the work as a single volume suggests that engagement with it resulted in his desire to split it into two volumes and rebind them in their present state. As a result, the text on folio 1a opens with the conclusion of the fourth daftar separated from the first volume where a scribe replaced it (see Persian MS 395, folio 287a).

Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Written on straight-grained, thin, buff-coloured handmade paper manufactured in the Islamic world, with ~1 mm between laid lines and occasionally discernible chain lines.
Extent: 302 folios (ff. 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. Catchwords throughout on the lower left corners of the b sides.


In fair condition.


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


Primarily written in nasta‘līq script in black, with subheadings in red nasta‘līq and naskh.


Illumination: Headpieces on folios 1b, 83b, and 184b. Marginal ruling throughout in gold outlined in thin single and double black lines, surrounded by red and blue lines.

  • The first right flyleaf bears the title and with the name of former owner Colonel George William Hamilton in Persian, possibly written by his assistant Muhīn Dās:
    ‘ سه ۳ دفتر از کتاب هشت بهشت کرنیل جارج ولیم هملتن صاحب بهادر ’
  • Folio 303b bears the title of the manuscript in Persian on the upper-right corner, as well as two repeated Indic raqam numeral notations written in siyāq script that indicate a price of naw lakh chahār rupee (9004 rupees) paid for the intact volume.
Bookplates: The left paste-down, ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ and ‘Hamilton MSS No. 313’ with the name and number crossed out and ‘Persian’ and ‘396’ written aside.


Probably split into two volumes and uniformly rebound with Persian MS 395 in Delhi for former owner Colonel George William Hamilton. Resewn on a single flat support, with folios 50–66, 82–97, 121–152, and 222–237 oversewn. Edges trimmed, spine lined with cloth, and Islamic-style twined chevron endbands worked in red silk and silver threads. Rebound in a hybrid British-Indian style, tight-backed binding in two separate pieces of smooth, dark red goatskin leather that overlap on the spine, without a flap (type III binding per Déroche), with squares along the edges and defined exterior joints. Cloth lining and thong ends attached to the board interiors, then overlaid with European schrotel-patterned marbled paper doublures.

Spine and board perimeters dyed brown. Decorative onlays feature scalloped central mandorlas, detached pendants, and corners glocked in gold, surrounded by a border 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 black nasta‘līq.

279 × 167 × 43 mm.

Handle with caution. Exterior cover extensively abraded, abrasion to the board exteriors.

Accompanying Material

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


Origin: Possibly completed in India; 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

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 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, and in consutlation with Prof. Christopher Markiewicz, University of Birmingham.


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.

Digital Images

Manchester Digital Collections (full digital facsimile).


    Persian MS 395 (Vol. 1).
    Ali Anooshahr, The Early Ottomans in Idris Bitlisi’s Hasht Bihisht. In Turkestan and the Rise of Eurasian Empires: A Study of Politics and Invented Traditions. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018), pp. 28–55.
    Aikaterini Dimitriadou, 'Heşt Behişt of Idris Bidlisi: the reign of Bayezid II (1481-1512)'. Ph.D. Dissertation. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, 2001.
    Fehmi Ethem Karatay, Topkapı Sarayı Müzesi Kütüphanesi Farsça yazmalar kataloğu., (İstanbul: Topkapı Sarayı Müzesi, 1961),pp. 57–59 nos. 150–154 [Topkapı A. 2914, R. 1514–16, and E.H. 1406].
    Syed Ahmad Khan, ‘Proceedings of the Scientific Society (Ghazeepore, the 12th of March 1864)' The Aligarh Movement: Basic Documents 1864–1898, Vol. 1, Edited by Shan Muhammad (Lahore: Islamic Book Centre, 1986), pp. 23–25.
    Christopher Markiewicz, The Crisis of Kingship in Late Medieval Islam: Persian Emigres and the Making of Ottoman Sovereignty. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019.
    Abdülkadir Özcan, "İdrîs-i Bitlisî" in TDV İslâm Ansiklopedisi Vol. 21. (2000): pp. 485–488.
    Abdülkadir Özcan, "Heşt Bihişt" in TDV İslâm Ansiklopedisi Vol. 17. (1998): pp. 271–273.
    Charles Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the British Museum, Vol. I. (London: British Museum, 1879), pp. 216–16 [BL Add. 7646 and 7647].
    Eduard Sachau and Hermann Ethé, Catalogue of the Persian, Turkish, Hindûstani, and Pushtû manuscripts in the Bodleian Library Vol I. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1889), , cols. 166–67, no. 311 [Ouseley 358].
    C. A. Storey, Persian Literature: A Bio-bibliographical Survey, Vol. I Pt. 1 (London: Luzac & Co., 1927), pp. 412–416, §587.
    Sarah Nur Yildiz, "Historiography xiv. The Ottoman Empire" in Encyclopædia Iranica, Vol. XII, Fasc. 4, (2004): pp. 403–411.
    Sarah Nur Yildiz, 'Ottoman Historical Writing in Persian, 1400–1600', Persian Historiography: A History of Persian Literature Vol. X. Edited by Charles Melville. (London: I. B. Tauris 2012): pp. 483–493.

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute


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