Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Or 16404 (Oriental Manuscripts, British Library)

Oriental Manuscripts

Bayhaqi's Javami‘ ahkam al-nujum


1 copy of Javāmiʿ aḥkām al-nujūm by Ẓahīr al-Dīn Abū al-Ḥasan ʿAlī ibn Zayd al-Bayhaqī

A rare treatise on astrology, concerned with stellar influences. By Ẓahīr al-Dīn Abū l-Ḥasan ‘Alī ibn Zayd al-Bayhaqī (ca. 490/1097 - 565/1169-70), a polymath of Arab origin who is best known as a historian, being the author of the regional history Tārīkh-i Bayhaq. The text, comprising ten faṣls (for contents see f. 2v-3r), offers many interesting insights into scientific and popular beliefs of the period. In the preface, the author enumerates the sources consulted (f. 1v-2r).

For an account of Ẓahīr al-Dīn Bayhaqī and his various works, see H. Halm, ‘Bayhaqī, Ẓahīr al-Dīn Abū’l-Ḥasan ‘Alī b. Zayd’, EIr III, pp. 895-6. Concerning the author and other manuscripts, see Munzavī, FNKhF I, p. 284 (12 manuscripts); Storey, PL II/1, p. 48. See also Ḥājjī Khalīfa, Kashf al-ẓunūn II, p. 636; Āqā Buzurg, Zarī‘a V, p. 246.

The present manuscript, evidently written with care – though with many letters undotted – and featuring an unusual, elaborately laid out (though not illuminated) title page (f. 1r), was completed less than twenty years after the author's death, and predates by far all other recorded copies.

Begins: Basmala va bih nasta‘īn al-Ḥamd li-Llāh Rabb al-‘Ālamīn va l-ṣalāt ‘alà Nabiyyih va ālih ajmā‘īn Chunīn gūyad Khwāja va Imām-i ajall-i muḥtaram Ḥujjat al-Dīn Farīd-i Khurāsān Abū l-Ḥasan bin al-Imām Abilqasim (sic) Zayd bin al-Imām Amīrak Muḥammad bin al-Ḥakīm

Ends (f. 162v): Va badān burjhā’-i sābit dalīl kunad bar sāl va dū [jasadayn?] bar māh va munqalab bar rūz

Other contents: f. 162v (bottom lines), inscription apparently recording the sale of the manuscript in Ramażān of a date ending with 500 (possibly 590/1194); f. 163r-165v and 166v-173v, addenda to Bayhaqī’s work, with the initial heading Faṣl-i yāzdahum dar abvāb-i parākanda (‘Chapter Eleven, on miscellaneous subjects’), in the form of both text and a few tables; some parts may have been added to the manuscript somewhat later than the original text, and were possibly derived from other works on the subject.

Iran. Colophon, f. 162v, beginning Tamām shud kitāb-i Bayhaqī… . Copied, for his own use (ba-khaṭṭ-i ṣāḥib al-kitāb), by Abū Bakr ibn Ismā‘īl ibn Abī Bakr al-Murakkib. Dated 6 Zū l-Qa‘da 583/7 January 1188.

Naskhī script in dark brown (iron gall) ink. 22 lines. Headings in bold letters; in red on f. 163-171. Overlinings. Folio 1r has an ornate title and author inscription, rather faded, in vocalised muḥaqqaq. Later catchwords. Tables in red; other spaces for tables left blank. Thick beige paper, mainly in good condition. 173 folios. 241 x 164 mm.; text area variable, ca. 210 x 140 mm. Black leather binding, old but not original, extensively repaired with patches, and with the ogival impressed ornamental medallions and small pendants almost entirely worn away.

Purchased from Sam Fogg Ltd., 22 March 2007.

Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Extent: 173 f.
Dimensions (leaf): 241 × 164 mm.
Dimensions (written):



Origin: 6 Z̲ū l-Qaʿdah 583 AH; 7 January 1188 CE ; Iran

Record Sources

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


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