Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Or 15599 (Oriental Manuscripts, British Library)

Oriental Manuscripts

Treatise on chess


1 copy of Sardārnāmah by Shīr Muḥammad Khān ibn Muḥammad ‘Āqil Īmān

A treatise on the game of chess. By Shīr Muḥammad Khān ibn Muḥammad ‘Āqil, called Īmān, of Hyderabad (Deccan), who died in 1221/1806-7.

Begun in 1211/1796-7 and completed the following year, Sardārnāmah comprises six sections called ma‘rakah and consists mainly of illustrative diagrams on grids with explanatory text. For the most part, the author discusses the modern game; the boards represented have 64 squares except on folios 92v-99v, on shaṭranj-i ẓarrāfah where they have 100; and on f. 100r, illustrating the chapter on shaṭranj-i kabīr, with 144 squares.

Other contents: f. 1v, a record of purchase of the manuscript by Muḥammad Liyāqat ‘Alīkhan, dated 1335/1917; f. 105r, verses in Persian.

Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Thin white paper.
Extent: 105 ff (+ 3 blank).
Dimensions (leaf): 214 × 123 mm.


Damaged by worms throughout without significant loss of text, except probably on f. 21v. The folios have been laminated and mounted on guards.





Opposing chess pieces represented by letters in black and red. Headings etc. in red. No text frames.



Red morocco binding, with impressed central medallion, pendants and cornerpieces, laid over boards, cloth back.


Origin: 1800 - 1850 CE ; India

Provenance and Acquisition

Record of purchase (f. 1v) by Muḥammad Liyāqat ‘Alī Khan, dated 1335/1917


Acquired from Bonhams sale 13 April 2000, Lot 598

Record Sources

Based on unpublished description in M.I. Waley, Catalogue of Persian Manuscripts acquired 2000-2014.


Entry to read in the Library is permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card for admissions procedures contact British Library, Registering for a Reader Pass. Contact apac-enquiries@bl.uk for further information on the availability of this manuscript. For information on catalogues and ordering manuscripts see Finding and ordering Persian manuscripts in the British Library.

Funding of Cataloguing



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