Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

MS. Marsh 454 (Bodleian Library, Oxford University)

Oriental Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: A compliation of five works (three in Ottoman Turkish and one in side-by-side Persian and Latin, and one solely in Persian) in two, perhaps three different hands. The hand of the bilingual Persian/Latin section is that of Jacob Golius, though all hands betray diggering degrees of non-native familiarity with the Arabic script, and all items are written on paper originating around the year 1670 of European (likely Dutch or English) origin. The first item is a thin paste-in leaf with a torn edge pasted on one small side upside-down vis-a-vis the remaining text, which can be flipped over to read the text on the back of the paste-in. It gives a list of major cities on the road from Aleppo to Istanbul in Turkish. The second item (folios 1b-40b) consists of excerpts on North Africa, Syria, Egypt, Spain, and France from the Turkish version of سپاهی‌زاده محمد بن علی Sipāhīzāde Mollā Meḥmed bin ‘Alī's geographical work titled اوضح المسالك الی معرفة البلدان والممالك Evżaḥu l-mesālik ilā ma‘rifeti l-büldān ve-l-memālik. The translation is dedicated to سلطان مراد الثانی Sulṭān Murād es̠-s̠ānī (i.e. Murad III, Sultan of the Turks, 1546-1595) and Ṣadra‘ẓam صوقوللی محمد پاشا Ṣoḳollu Meḥmed Paşa, 1505-1579. It is styled in Latin on the first flyleaf (flyleaf ia) and last (folio 41(iii)b) pages Geographica Africana Turcice. The third item (folios 41a-56b) is an anonymous tract describing the known inhabited continents at the time, followed by selections of major countries along with statistical and ethnographical remarks. It is styled in Latin on the first page (folios 41a) and in the sale catalogue through which this manuscript was acquired as Compendium Cosmographicum, Turcice conscriptum. The fourth item consists of unidentified pieces of poetry and prose, mostly in Persian with occasional bits of Ottoman Turkish, of which large sections are translated (occasionally summarised or paraphrased) on the parallel halves of the same pages into Latin by Jacob Golius. In the sections without translations, the Persian text is only written on the lefthand side of each page with considerable blank space to the right, suggesting these were also meant to be translated. There are five blank pages in this section, but though the hand of the Persian varies slightly throughout in size and style, the hand of the Latin remains consistent, suggesting that this was one work by the same, non-native Persophone author who changed or developed their hand over the course of writing, or in any case notes compiled by the same author. There is no title given for the work itself, but the sale catalogue lists the item in Latin as Adagia Persica, plurimus in locis cum interpretatione Jacobi Golii at the end of the first section before the blank pages, though there is no indication that this is intended as the title for the whole item, nor indeed of the whole first section. The fifth item is a copy of the مفتاح الخزاٸن Miftāḥ al-khazā'in of حاجی زین العطار Ḥājī Zayn al-‘aṭṭār, being an original, redacted adaptation (based on an unknown version) of Πεδάνιος Διοσκουρίδης Pedanius Dioscorides's Περὶ ὕλης ἰατρικῆς De materia medica. Styled in Latin on folio 89a clavis bibliothecæ. Thesaúrus. persice. beneath the Persian/Arabic title and clavis sive Thesaurus Bibliothecæ, Persice in the sale catalogue.
front paste-in
Author: anonymous
Title: حلبدن اسطانبول طرفنه متوجه اولان منازلڭ اسماسی [sic] بیان ایدر علا مدت الاختصار تحریر شد
Title: Ḥalebden İsṭanbul ṭarafına müteveccih olan menāziliñ esmāsı [sic] beyān ėder ‘alā müddetü l-iḫtisār taḥrīr şüd
Language(s): Ottoman Turkish
folios 41a-56b
Incipit: (folio 41a) معلوم اولا که قطب شمالڭ و قطب جنوبڭ عبور اولان
Language(s): Ottoman Turkish with the cardinal directions in parallel latin text on the compass of the last page (folio 56b).


Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: European paper with foolscap watermark and 'PR' countermark appearing in many pages throughout. Its appearance in other manuscripts suggests an origin in the Netherlands slightly prior to 1670.
Extent: ff. 56
Dimensions (leaf): 23.7 × 20 cm.

The sale catalogue suggests that the items within this manuscript originate in separate, unbound folios (Libri M. SS. Incompacti in Folio), and the complex foliation of this manuscript reflects this.

Though there are 193 actual folios in the manuscript, they are currently foliated as follows: 1-39, 40(i)-40(iii), 41-55, 56(i)-56(vi), 57-68, 69(i)-69(iii), 70-184.


Single column of 20 lines per page.


(front paste-in, folios 1b-40b, folios 89a-184b) Script: Nasta‘līq in black ink with red ink for place names on folios 1b-40b and folios 89a-184b. Scribe unknown, but these three items appear to be in a hand which was not natively accustomed to the Arabic script but which was nevertheless quite skilled at it. The fact that they were written on paper likely of Dutch origin seems to support this theory.

(folios 41a-56b) Script: A hand with an ideosyncratic angular style somewhat reminiscent of Maghribī in brown ink (possibly walnut-based) throughout, though. Both the hand and the type of ink suggest a non-native scribe, perhaps a more polished version of the hand of Jacob Golius, who served several years at the Dutch embassy to Morocco.

(folios 1b-40b) Arabic script: Clearly non-native Naskh. Latin script: Simple cursive/bastard hand, typical of Renaissance Northern Europe. Black ink throughout. Scribe: Jacob Golius.


Folios 1b-40b display red text borders throughout.

Folio 56(i)b shows an inverted compass rose with eight directions in Ottoman, the cardinal dimensions being also labeled in Latin below.

Folios 57a-69(i)a contain drawings of flowers of various sorts in the same brown ink as and inline with the text.


Origin: Date and place of origin unknown, but no earlier than the coronation of Sulṭān Murād III, to whom the translation of the اوضح المسالك الی معرفة البلدان والممالك Evżaḥu l-mesālik ilā ma‘rifeti l-büldān ve-l-memālik is dedicated, in 1574 CE; 982 AH. Additionally, the paper seems to have been produced in the decade or so prior to 1670. Given that Golius died on, part of the manuscript at least was very likely produced towards the end of Golius' life in the 1660s.

Record Sources

Manuscript description based on: Beeston, A. F. L. (Alfred Felix Landon); Ethé, Hermann, 1844-1917.; Sachau, Eduard, 1845-1930; Catalogue of the Persian, Turkish, Hindûstânî, and Pushtû manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford; at the Clarendon Press 1889-1953


Entry to read in the Library is permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card (for admissions procedures contact Bodleian Admissions). Contact specialcollections.enquiries@bodleian.ox.ac.uk for further information on the availability of this manuscript

Funding of Cataloguing



Comment on this record

Please fill out your details.

How are we using your feedback? See our privacy policy.