Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 827 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: An undated volume of the Mirʼāt al-ʻĀlam (Mirror of the World) by Muḥammad Bakhtāvar Khān, (1620–1685) then apparently completed by Shaykh Muḥammad Baqā Sahāranpūrī. While it initially draws upon works by earlier historians, it then provides a vivid account of the first ten years of the reign of the Mughal ruler Emperor ‘Ālamgīr I (b. 1618, r. 1658–1707), including many details and statistics, hence it holds esteem as a preeminent source for that period.
Title: مرآت العالم
Incipit: صفحه‌ی ۲ (Page 2): برترین گوهری که تاجداران کشور فصاحت و تخت نشینان خطهٔ بلاغت را پیرایهٔ افتخار باشد...
Explicit: صفحه‌ی ۸۰۰ (Page 800): غریق رحمت یزدان کسی باد * که کاتب را بالحمدی کند یاد
Colophon: No colophon.

The opening of this manuscript comports with Ethé India Office catalogue no. 125. While Henry Miers Elliot and Charles Rieu describe the work as eponymously written in the name of Muḥammad Bakhtāvar Khān by Muḥammad Baqā Sahāranpūrī, Sajida Alvi identifies contemporaneous sources that identify it as the by former, but then likely completed by the latter.

Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Various ivory-coloured, laid papers, mostly cross-grained, all likely handmade in India, sized and highly polished, with variant laid lines, and few observable chain lines.
Extent: 800 pages (400 folios; i + 400 + i).
Dimensions (leaf): 430 × 246 mm.
Dimensions (written): 327 × 161 mm.
Foliation: Hindu-Arabic folio numbers written in red on the upper-left corners of the a sides, but apparently inaccurate, as they end at 395.
Foliation: Modern pagination in pencilled Arabic numerals on the upper-left corners of the a sides.


Undetermined.Catchwords evident on the b sides where the pages have not been repaired.


Handle with caution. In poor condition, with extensive water, mould, and insect damage throughout.


Written in a single column with 25 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Written in many various hands in nasta‘līq script in black with subheaders and lines above the beginning of the sentences marked in red.

Inscriptions: The first right flyleaf (f. ia) numbered ‘No. 2’ and priced ‘5l. 15s. 6d.’ Bookplates and labels: On the left paste-down: ‘Biblioteca Lindesiana’ with shelfmark ‘1/A’, with an earlier handwritten label at top ‘Persian MSS no. 33’, with the number crossed out and ‘827’ added.


Probably rebound in London for former owner Duncan Forbes. Oversewn on five recessed cords laced into the pasteboards. Edges then trimmed and stained in a reddish tan colour. No enbands at head and tail. Recovered in full, maroon bookcloth embossed with a moirée pattern, without a flap fore-edge flap (type II binding per Déroche et al), with endpapers of heavy-weight machine-made wove paper.

Gilt spine label of black sheepskin skiver leather boldly titled ‘MIRAT UL 'ALAM’ in gold.

441 × 268 × 59 mm.

Handle with caution: in good condition, headcaps abraded and corners bent. Text block split between pages 707–708.


Origin: Probably India

Provenance and Acquisition

Later acquired by Duncan Forbes (1798–1868), Professor of Oriental Languages at King's College.

In 1866, he published it as item no. 2 in his library catalogue, then sold it to W. H. Allen & Co. in London in exchange for annuity, from whom Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford (1812–1880) purchased it later that same year.

Subsequently 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 from a manuscript catalogue by Michael Kerney, circa 1890s, later published in concise form 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


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.


    S. S. Alvi, 'The Historians of Awrangzeb: A Comparative Study of Three Primary Sources', Essays on Islamic Civilization: Presented to Niyazi Berkes, edited by D. P. Little (Leiden: Brill, 1976, pp. 57–73.
    S. S. Alvi, 'Baḵtāvar Khan, Moḥammad,' in Encyclopædia Iranica, Vol. III, Fasc. 5 (1989) pp. 541–542.
    Muhammad Bakhtāwar Khān, Mirʼāt al-ʻĀlam: History of Awrangzeb (1658-1668). Edited by Sajida S. Alvi. Lahore: Research Society of Pakistan, 1979.
    H. M. Elliot and J. Dowson, The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians, Vol. VII (London: Trübner & Co., 1867), pp. 145–165 (esp. pp. 150–154), no. LXIX.
    H. Ethé, Catalogue of Persian Manuscripts in the Library of the India Office, Vol. I (Oxford: Printed for the India Office by H. Hart, 1903), col. 47, no. 124 [BL IO Islamic 986].
    D. Forbes, Catalogue of Oriental Manuscripts, Chiefly Persian, Collected Within the Last Five and Thirty years, (London: W. H. Allen., 1866), p. 1, no. 2
    V. A. Ivanov, Concise Descriptive Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the Collection of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, (Calcutta: Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1924), p. 744 no. 1609.
    D. N. Marshall, Mughals in India: A Bibliographical Survey. Vol. 1. Manuscripts (Bombay: Asia Publishing House1962, p. 102, no. 315 (ii), and p. 105, no. 324(i).
    C. Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian manuscripts in the British Museum, Vol. I (London: British Museum1879), p. 125 [BL Add. 7657].
    E. Sachau and H. Ethé, Catalogue of the Persian, Turkish, Hindûstânî, and Pushtû Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Vol I. 1889 col. 55, no. 114 [Bodl. Elliot 242].
    C. A. Storey, Persian Literature: A Bio-bibliographical Survey, Vol. 1, Pt. 1 (London: Luzac & Co.1935), pp. 132–133.


Comment on this record

Please fill out your details.

How are we using your feedback? See our privacy policy.

See the Availability section of this record for information on viewing the item in a reading room.