Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 438 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: The Niẓām al-Tavārīkh (Order of Histories), by Bayz̤āvī, ʻAbd Allāh ibn ʻUmar (d. 1285–86) . An abridged history of Iran, the work recounts the ancient rulers up until the Mongol conquest.
Incipit: (basmalla) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): حمد بیحد و شکر سعد و غایت مبدعی را که بیک امر کن عالم ارواح و اشباح را پیدا کرد...
Explicit: برگ ۴۲پ (folio 42b): وفق الله لما یسیدد عالم جلاله و تجدد مظله ظله له بحق النبی محمد و آله الطا[هرین] تمت تمام تم تم تم.
Colophon: No colophon

Evidently defective at the end, then later restored. Sayyid Shamsullah Qadri published a critical edition of this work in 1930. For English translations of select passages, see Elliot and Dowson.

Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Medium-weight, straight-grained, externally sized and polished, butter-coloured handmade paper likely handmade in the Indian subcontinent, with ~7 laid lines per cm and no discernible chain lines. Folios 37 to 42 of comparatively thin, heavily sized highly polished, cross-grained, buff-coloured, also likely made in India
Extent: 42 folios, 4 flyleaves (ff. ii + 42 + ii).
Dimensions (leaf): 232 × 152 mm.
Dimensions (written): 184 × 85 mm.
Foliation: Foliated in Hindu-Arabic numerals in ink


Probably originally quaternions, but quires subsequently altered during repair. 3IV(32)1II(36)1III(42). Catchwords throughout on the lower-left corners of the b sides.


Handle with caution. In fair condition condition. Folios 1 to 36 extensive water damaged and stained at head and tail, with some insect damage, and historical repairs throughout, with all of the gutter margins replaced with comparatively thin paper, similar to folios added to restore the volume.


Written in 1 column with 17 lines per page; ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Written in medium, legible black nasta’līq with names and subheaders in red.

Replaced folios 38 to 42b (the final quire), written in medium, legible nasta’liq script in black ink with names and subheaders in red, added to complete the volume.

  • The right flyleaf verso (f. ib) bears the full title and author's name in Persian, written in black together with that of prior owner Colonel George William Hamilton.
  • Brief title written in Persian in red.
Bookplates: Left paste-down: ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with shelfmark ‘1/G’, and ‘Hamilton MSS No. 355’.


Probably restored in India for former owner Colonel George William Hamilton. Resewn on a single leather thong support, put down on the pasteboards. Edges trimmed, but without endbands. Rebound in a British-Indian hybrid style, covered in full polished maroon goatskin leather over paasteboards, with squares along the edges of the boards and without a flap (type III binding as per Déroche). Endpapers of comparatively rough paper, probably handmade in India.

Boards margins and spine dyed dark brown. Boards bear paper onlays in gold scalloped central mandorlas, detached pendants, with a horiztonal cartouche of three insular dots in between, connected by criss-crossed single rule lines in yellow, and double-ruled on either side of the outer margins. Spine bears a paper label inscribed with the title in Persian.

239 × 153 × 13 mm.

In fair condition. Some abrasion to the surface, cracking at headcaps

Accompanying Material

Table of Contents recorded on five loose folios, inserted at the front of the volume.


Origin: Probably completed in the India; undated, but likely 18th-century CE, with the final quire added to restore the volume in the mid-19th century.

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 amassed a library of more than a thousand Arabic and Persian manuscriptsfter, from which the British Museum selected 352, now held in the British Library.

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

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

Basic entry compiled by Elizabeth Gow derived from a manuscript catalogue 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 in hand.


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)



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