Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Or 15876 (Oriental Manuscripts, British Library)

Oriental Manuscripts



Summary of Contents: A selection of Persian verse and prose lore, most if not all of which is Sufi-influenced. The five texts are attributed, tenuously for the most part, to a number of renowned figures. The rarity and interest of this manuscript lies in its originating from Central Asia (East Turkistan) or possibly from China, and in its bold and distinctive, if unsophisticated, ornamentation.
1. ff 1v-6v

Quatrains traditionally attributed to ‘Umar Khayyām (d. 517/1123).The verses are punctuated on f. 5v by an anecdote about the renowned Sufi Bayazīd Basṭāmī and a man who claimed to have the cure for every ill.

Language(s): Persian
2. ff 6v-7r
Title: Munājāt

Confessional prayers in rhyming prose in Arabic, implausibly attributed to the first Caliph, Abū Bakr al-Ṣiddīq (d. 13/634).

Language(s): Arabic.
3. f. 7r

Four proverbial ‘wondrous exceptions’, attributed to one Ākhūnd Mullā Mu‘īn.

Language(s): Persian
4. ff 7v-11r
Title: Ashʻār
Title: اشعار

Poems, unattributed, mainly concerned with mystical love. Many of the poems have the heading chārbayt (poem in four hemistiches) or rubā‘ī (quatrain); on 8v is a longer poem in Arabic, replete with assonance and alliteration, headed Qaṣīda Ṭanzanī (?).

Title supplied.

Language(s): Persian and Arabic.
5. ff 1v-6v

A poem or series of poems concerning the Path of Sufism, here attributed to the great Sufi poet and biographer Farīd al-Dīn ‘Aṭṭār.

Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Fairly thick off-white laid paper.
Extent: 18 ff.
Dimensions (leaf): 215 × 148 mm.
Dimensions (written): ca 135 × ca 67 mm.




Good nasta‘līq; Arabic passages in naskhī.


Multiple text frames: black, gold, yellow, red, green and black. Gold and polychrome floral motifs and designs of Central Asian type on most folios. Illuminated text openings on f. 1v-2r and 11v-12r. Illuminated poetical dā’ira, f. 9v.



Original brown leather binding in Chinese style, with large roundels at the centre, both back and front, containing an ornate Basmalah in relief, in Ṣīnī script; other distinctive ornamental motifs in the corners and on the flap.


Origin: 1850 - 1899 CE ; Central Asia

Provenance and Acquisition


Purchased at Bomhams sale 24 April 2002, Lot 148.

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Based on unpublished description in M.I. Waley, Catalogue of Persian Manuscripts acquired 2000-2014.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