Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Or 15974 (Oriental Manuscripts, British Library)

Oriental Manuscripts

Tuhfat al-afazil


Summary of Contents: 1 copy of Tuḥfat al-afāz̤il fī sharḥ al-manāzil fī ḥasanāt al-ṭāli‘ va ikhtiyārāt al-nujūm. by Bāb, ʻAlī Muḥammad Shīrāzī,1819-1850

A perpetual calendar together with a treatise on astrologically favourable stellar ascendants, conjunctions, etc. The text is the work of Sayyid ‘Alī Muḥammad Shīrāzī, known as the Bāb, founder of the Bābī religion (1235-66/1819-50). On the Bāb and his life and work, see D. M. MacEoin, ‘Bab, Sayyed ‘Alī Moḥammad Šīrāzī’ in EIr III, pp. 278-84 and the bibliography included there; the present work, however, is not mentioned.

That the present manuscript is the author’s autograph is attested by the wording of the simple colophon katabuh mu’allifuh 1262 on f. 25r, and by the introductory inscription on f. 3r which also states that the tables and figures were written out by Muḥammad Ṣādiq ibn ‘Abd al-Bāqī al-Iṣfahānī, a disciple of the Bāb; his seal impression is at the centre of some tables.

Other contents: f. 1r, text of a Lawḥ or sacred tablet of ‘Abd al-Bahā; description of the present manuscript, certifying the Bāb’s authorship, and esoteric verses in Persian with exposition in prose; f. 2r, notes on the calendar; 3r, calligraphed description of the work, in red ink, with attribution, dating from the author’s lifetime; ownership inscription of Ḥusayn ibn ‘Alī al-Varrāq al-Iṣfahānī, and an inscription invoking Kabīkaj to protect the manuscript; back endpaper, owner’s inscription. Another description of the work is on a small label affixed to the front cover.

Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Thin off-white paper.
Extent: 25 ff.
Dimensions (leaf): 360 × 212 mm.
Dimensions (written): 335 × 198 mm.



22 lines in introduction, elsewhere variable and often written diagonally.


Main text in good, clear asta‘līq, Autograph of Sayyid ‘Alī Muḥammad Shīrāzī. Tables is mainly in excellent naskhī, by Muḥammad Ṣādiq ibn ‘Abd al-Bāqī al-Iṣfahānī, a disciple of the Bāb.


Headings, some table text, etc., in red. Text frames: black, pale gold, blue. Small coloured figures on f. 7v and 8r, the latter representing a rainbow.



Original covers in mid-brown goatskin.



Origin: 1262 (1845 - 1846) AH Dated 1262/1846.

Provenance and Acquisition

Muḥammad Ṣādiq ibn ‘Abd al-Bāqī al-Iṣfahānī


Bonhams sale 16 Oct 2003, lot 185.

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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