Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Or 16169 (Oriental Manuscripts, British Library)

Oriental Manuscripts

Dāstān-i Amīr ‘Abd al-Raḥmān


1 copy of Dāstān-i Amīr ʿAbd al-Raḥmān

A lengthy popular narrative centred on a Muslim hero named Amīr ʿAbd al-Raḥmān. Its composition and/or copying was completed by Sulṭān ʿAlī on Thursday 4 Ṣafar 1292/12 March 1875. No work with this or a similar title is to be found in Munzavī FNKhF vol. V.

The reference to ‘someone named Tarsūsī’ in the preface (f. 2r) as being a link in the transmission of the tales recounted here suggests a possible link with one of the several narratives attributed to Abū Ṭāhir Tarsūsī: see Rieu, BM Turkish, pp. 219-20. On f. 50v, at the beginning of Dāstān 5, the text cites two other narrators besides Ṭarsusī: ʿAlī Zarnīkh and Ṭalḥa Zarnīkh.

The text contains numerous references to Abū Muslim throughout, and must have some connection with popular narratives concerning Abū Muslim and the uprising he led againbst the Umayyads and in support of the ʿAbbāsids. The ancestry of Amīr ʿAbd al-Raḥmān is taken back as far as ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib, grandfather of the Prophet: as given on f. 2v-3r, his name is ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn Sayyid al-Dīn (sic) Junayd ibn Shihāb ibn Munz̲ir ibn Nawfal ibn Qaylān ibn ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib. The narrative begins with enmity arising between two clans, Banū Hāshim (led by Sayyid Junayd (?)) and Banū Ṭayy (sic) (led by Ḥātim al-Ṭaʾī).

As will be seen from the incipit text, the narrative makes ponderous reading. The Persian contains numerous infelicities of expression and errors of grammar and spelling: examples are mardum for mardum, ammān for ammā, rūyat for rivāyat on f. 1v-2r). Arabic fares no better, as with the mis-spelling on f. 20r of ‘Qālū Innā li-Allāh va innā ilayh rājiʿūn’. No text divisions or line spaces are introduced at the beginning of most new sections (e.g. Dāstān-i dūyum, f. 36v; Dāstān-i sīvum, f. 41r). In addition, the handwriting is very poor and sometimes difficult to read, partly because some words are joined together in unorthodox combinations. Despite the difficulties, though, the present manuscript appears likely to prove of interest to specialists.

Begins: ‘Basmalah... Rabb yassir tammim bi-l-khayr... al-Ḥamd... va al-ʿāqibah... va al-ṣalāt va al-salām... Pūshīda namānad bar arbāb-i faz̤l va karam rāviyan-i daftar va naqīl-i (sic) ḥikāyāt va muʿabbir chunīn rivāyat kardah and... Rubāʿī... maqṣūd-i kār khānah ṣafḥah-ʾi ayvān nigāshtan / kāshānhā-yi (sic) sayr bi-falak bar firishtān (sic) / gulhā-yi dilfarīb dirakhtah mīvah dar / dar bāgh as̲īr-i luṭf kāshtan... Ammā baʿd... Pas az ḥamd-i Maʿbūd va naʿt-i Nabī agar gūsh-i jānat kujā būd sar-rishtah-'i dāstān / biyā bishanaw īn mard-i dānā va ba-samʿat rasānam yakī dāstān az iqbāl-i ū malām zi qand va qandīl... ’

Ends: ‘va ba-rūḥ-i shahīdān-i Karbalā sawgand hast kih har vaqt kih īn kitāb-rā bakhwānīd mayānrā (sic) az duʿāʾ maḥrūm namānīd (sic) va Allāh aʿlam bi-al-ṣavāb ’

Other contents: front flyleaf, price in Persian letters and western numerals: Qaymat Rs. 85; title Dastan Amir Abdur Rahman; typewritten English description tipped in on flyleaf.

India. Completed on Thursday 4 Ṣafar 1292/12 March 1875.

Written in a poor, large, cursive hand between naskhī and nastaʿlīq. 18 lines. Black overlinings for some headings, lines of poetry, etc. Beige paper, probably Indian, of below average thickness, of proportions not far from square. 130 folios, plus 2 blank. 295 x 258 mm.; text area variable, ca.240 x 180 mm. Thick deep red leather boards overlaid with marbled paper, worn and creased.

Language(s): Persian & English

Physical Description

Form: codex
Extent: 130 ff. (+2)
Dimensions (leaf): 295 × 258 mm.
Dimensions (written):



Origin: Thursday, 4 Ṣafar 1292 AH; 12 March 1875 CE ; India

Record Sources

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


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