Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 942 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts

Primarily the Badāyiʻ al-Inshāʼ (Novelties in Composition), with a folio detached from the Kitāb-i Taṣrīf (Book on Morphology).


Summary of Contents: This volume primarily contains the Badāyiʻ al-Inshāʼ (Novelties of Composition) also known as the Inshā-yi Yūsufī after its author, Yūsuf ibn Muḥammad ibn Yūsuf al-Maḥallī (d. 1559), known as Yūsufī. The volume also contains one single detached initial folio of an unidentified Persian translation from the Arabic work Kitāb-i Taṣrīf by ʻAbd al-Wahhāb ibn Ibrāhīm Zanjānī (fl. mid-13th c.).

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Primarily cross-grained, medium-weight, cream-coloured paper likely handmade in India, with some folios dyed pink, peach, and russet.
Extent: 131 folios, 5 flyleaves (ff. iv + 131 + i).
Dimensions (leaf): 270 × 145 mm.
Dimensions (written): 155 × 83 mm.
Foliation: Foliated in pencilled Arabic numerals at top of the a sides when catalogued.


Primarily quaternions throughout. 30IV(120)1V(131). Catchwords on the lower left corners of the b sides throughout, albeit trimmed.


Good condition. Prior water damage along the edges with a few historical repairs.


Single column, with 13 lines per page. Ruled with a miṣtarah hand guide.


Written primarily in shikastah mixed with nasta‘līq script in black with sub-headers in red.

Many folios bear notes in a minuscule shikastah hand(s) in black written between the lines as well as marginalia in black and red.

Marginalia: Many folios bear interlinear notes in a minuscule black shikastah hand, as well as marginalia in black and red.
  • Folio 1b bears a notation by an unidientified former owner adjacent to an obliterated seal impression.

    ‘هذا النسخة الشريفة انشاء يوسفي تصنيف مولانا مولوي محمد يوسف.’

  • The right board exterior bears a price of ‘50 Rupees’ written in both Persian and English.


Unsupported sewing at two stations, with twined chevron endbands worked in white silk and silver threads, the latter now tarnished gray. Rebound in full, smooth maroon-coloured goatskin leather over pasteboards, without a flap (type III binding per Déroche). Endpapers of cross-grained, tan-coloured European laid handmade paper with ~ 1mm betwen laid lines and ~ 28mm between chain lines, watermarked with a prominent fleur de lis on the right pastedown measuring 68 × 44 mm. , and countermarked on the left pastedown with the date 1800.

Boards decorated with blocked central scalloped central mandorlas, detached pendants, and corners with fine intaglio-carved floral designs, possibly in black ink. Spine later titled ‘YOSUF’ in in the European manner in gold.

211 × 152 × 29 mm.

Binding in good condition. Headcaps repaired in maroon goatskin leather.

Seals of various owners appear on the fourth right flyleaf a side (f. iva), and folios 1a, 1b, and 130b

1: The added detached folio, now the fourth right flyleaf a side (f. iva) bears an obliterated, partly legible, round seal impression, intaglio carved in four stacked lines in in naskh script, double-ruled, possibly with the name of Jalāl al-Dīn. 13 × 14 mm.

2: Folios 1a and 1b (next to a notation) bear partially-legible rectangular seal impressions, intaglio carved in three stacked lines of nasta‘līq script, double-ruled, and impressed in black ink, with the name of a former owner or associate, possibly surnamed Shihābī, bearing the number 20, but the exact date appears unclear. 12 × 15 mm.

3: Folios 1b and 130b bear obliterated oval seal impressions, probably of a former owner that appear to be intaglio-carved two lines of nasta‘līq script, unruled, and impressed in black ink. 9 × 14 mm.


Origin: Awadh, India; completed by Sūbaldās on Tuesday evening of 5 Ṣafar 1093 AH (9 Aug. 1682 CE) on behalf of Abū Naṣr Khān (fl. ca. 1680–1705), son of Mughal general and Bengal Subahdar Mīrzā Abū Ṭālib Shā'istah Khān (ca. 1600–1694).

Provenance and Acquisition

Subsequently owned by at least two other individuals, likely in the Indian subcontinent one possible named Jalāl al-Dīn and the other possibly surnamed Shihābī as per their seal impressions upon folios 1a–1b and 130b.

Evidently acquired in the Indian subcontinent by East India Company administrator Sir Charles William Rouse-Boughton (1747–1821), who served there from 1765 to 1778. Note that he signs his name on the second right flyleaf a side (f. iia) as ‘C. W. B. Rouse’, evidently well before he changed his name in 1791 to 'Boughton Rouse' and to 'Rouse-Boughton' in 1794.

Subsequently acquired by antiquarian bookseller and publisher J. E. Cornish who operated a shop for many years at 33 Picadilly,Manchester.

Purchased by the John Rylands Library from J. E. Cornish in Oct. 1912.

Persian MS 942A


Summary of Contents: What now constitutes the third right flyleaf (f. iii), hinged at the beginning of the volume appears to be the detached preface to a Persian translation of Kitāb-i Taṣrīf (Book on Morphology) from the Arabic original by ʻAbd al-Wahhāb ibn Ibrāhīm Zanjānī, active 1257, possibly added in the belief that the translator also composed the following text; however, such a work appears undocumented.
third right flyleaf (f. iii)
Author and Translator: Anonymous Translator
Language(s): Persian


C. Brockelmann, Brockelmann in English: The History of the Arabic Written Tradition Online. Translated by J. J. Witkam. (Leiden: Brill 2017), p. 285, nos. 15–16.
W. H. Morley, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Historical Manuscripts in the Arabic and Persian Languages (London: John W. Parker & Son, 1854), pp. 105–108, nos. CV–CIII. [RAS Persian 110–113].
C. Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian manuscripts in the British Museum, Vol. I (London: British Museum1879), p. 280 [BL Add. 6577-6578].
E. Sachau and H. Ethé, Catalogue of the Persian, Turkish, Hindûstani, and Pushtû manuscripts in the Bodleian Library Vol I (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1889), col. 133, no. 254 [Bodl. Ouseley 330/3].
C. A. Storey, Persian Literature: A Bio-bibliographical Survey, § 2 fasc. 3 (London: Luzac & Co.1939), pp. 635–39.

Persian MS 942B


Summary of Contents: The Badāyiʻ al-Inshāʼ comprises the bulk of the volume. Originally composed by the author in 940 AH (1533–34 CE) for his son, it comprises ornate prose epistolgraphy texts arranged by rank, class, and then subjects at the end.
Scribe: Sūbaldās
Title: Badāʼiʻ al-inshāʼ
Incipit: (basmalla) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): زینت عنوان هر نامه نامی و زیور دیباچه هر صجیفه کرامی حمد مبدعنیست که منشی حکمت بالغهو کاتب قدرت کامله‌اش بقلم ابداع و خامهٔ اختراع جراید عواید النسان را به ارقام اگر ام علم الانسان ما لم یعلم مرقوم کردانید....
Explicit: برگ ۱۳۰پ (folio 130b): جناب هوای مآب مطابق نمایند * جناب محبت شعاد ملاحظه فرمایند .
Colophon: برگ ۱۳۰پ (folio 130b): تمت تمام شد کتاب انشا یوسفی تصنیف مشار الیه بخط شکسته سوبلداس قوم کرونی ساکن بله گنگ من مضاف صوبه اودهی عمل نواب مستطاب والاه جناب ابو النصر خان ابن امیر الامرا نواب شایسته خان در ۵ ماه شعبان المعظم سنه ۱۰۹۳ هجری بروز سه شنبه بوقت عصر با دل پر مسرت و بهجت مرقوم شد بجهت خواندن بر خورداری سعادت کرداری نراینداس طوله عمره ترغیب ترقیم افتاد مالک کتاب هم مشارالیه است تمام شد تمام شد کار من. این کتاب.... اگر کس دعو کند باطل گردد..
Colophon: Completed on Tuesday evening of 5 Ṣafar 1093 AH (9 Aug. 1682 CE) by the scribe Sūbaldās, of the Karūn caste, resident of Gang municipality in Awadh subah, on behalf of Abū Naṣr Khān (fl. ca. 1680–1705), son of Mughal general and Bengal Subahdar Mīrzā Abū Ṭālib Shā'istah Khān (ca. 1600–1694).
Language(s): Persian


C. Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian manuscripts in the British Museum, Vol. II (London: British Museum1879), p. 529 [BL Add. 6608, 16846, 18884].
Hermann Ethé, Catalogue of Persian manuscripts in the library of the India Office Vol. 1 (London: India Office Library, 1903), p. 1519, nos. 2057–2060 [IO Islamic 1372, 18, and 2173].
D. N. Marshall, Mughals in India: A Bibliographical Survey. Vol. 1. Manuscripts (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1962), p. 495, no. 1912, (i).
C. A. Storey, Persian Literature: A Bio-bibliographical Survey, Vol. III Pt. 2 (London: Luzac & Co.1984), p. 270, no. 447.
Tawfīq Subḥānī, 'Kitāb'hā-yi khaṭṭī-i Fārsī fihrist nashudah dar Kitābkhānah Jān Rāylāndz, Manchistir' Majallah-'i Dānishkadah-i Adabiyāt va ‘Ulūm-i Insānī n.s., Vol. 1, Nos. 2-3 (1372 SH [1993 CE]): pp. 163–164, no. 1.

Additional Information

Record Sources

Manuscript description by Jake Benson in 2022 with reference to the manuscript in hand, an unpublished handlist, accession registers, and a Persian description of the volume published by Tawfiq Subhani in 1993, and in consultation with Dr. Mahmood Alam regarding the colophon.


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Funding of Cataloguing

The John Rylands Research Institute


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