Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 943 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: This unillustrated and undecorated copy of the Gulistān (Rose Garden) of Saʻdī (ca. 1193–1292), features clearly written text but appears otherwise humble in comparison to other copies held in the Rylands.
Title: Gulistān
Incipit: (basmala) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): منّت خدای را عز و جل که طاعتش موجب قربت است
Explicit: برگ ۱۲۵ر (folio 125a): * و اَطلُب لِنَفسِکَ مِن خیرٍ تُریدُ بها مِن بعدِ ذلِکَ غُفراناً لکاتبه
Colophon: برگ ۱۲۵ر (folio 125a): تمام شد کتاب تصنیف مخدم شیخ سعدی شیرازی بتاریخ بیست و هفتم ما بروز جمع بوقت سه ۳ ماس این نسهه تحریر بافت.
Colophon: Uninformative colophon declares completion on ‘27 of the month of’, but then breaks off, then resumes ‘on Friday at the hour 3’, but omits both the month and year.
Language(s): Persian

For other copies of this work held in the Rylands, see Persian MS 16, 84, 512, and 860.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Textblock of cross-grained, lightly externally sized and polished, ivoury-coloured paper probably handmade in the Indian subcontinent with ~8 laid lines per cm and ~28–30 mm between discernible chain lines.
Extent: 126 folios, 6 flyleaves (ff. iii + 126 + iii).
Dimensions (leaf): 216 × 152 mm.
Dimensions (written): 158 × 95 mm.
Foliation: Pencilled Arabic numerals added to the upper-left corners of the a sides when catalogued.


Undetermined, but probably primarily quaternions throughout. Catchwords throughout most of the lower-left corners of the b sides.


Handle text with caution. In fair but stable condition, with extensive discolouration, occasional insect damage, and historical repairs.


Written in 1 column with 25 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Written in a hasty black nasta‘līq with red subheaders.


Probably rebound in Britain in the late 18th or early 19th century CE.

Resewn on three recessed cords laced into pasteboards. Comparatively thin, ivory-coloured wove endpapers added at the beginning and end, stiff-leaved with British-made 'shell'-patterned marbled papers. Edges trimmed, gilt, and decorative front-bead endbands sewn as head and tail. Covered in full, crimson straight-grained Morocco goatskin leather. Spine subsequently rebacked in darker straight-grained Morocco, with 4 false bands, and internal hinges of 'Spanish' wave-patterned marbled papers adhered as hinges covering the internal joints.

Boards feature gilt central diaper panels executed with a single fillet, and wide board margins of 7 repeated blind fillet lines, outlined with gilt single internal and double external fillets, and gilt quatrefoil rosettes on the cornewrs. Board edges tooled with perpendicular double lines in gold. Spine titled ‘Gulistan’.

222 × 169 × 28 mm.

Handle binding with caution. In stable but fair condition, with boards yawning, and extensive abrasion to their exteriors and edges.


Origin: Probably completed in the Indian subcontinent; ; undated, but probably late 18th century CE.

Provenance and Acquisition

While the circumstances under which this volume arrived in Britain remain unclear, Manchester bookseller J. E. Cornish subsequently acquired it.

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

Record Sources

Manuscript description by Jake Benson in 2023 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.


To book an in-person or online appointment to consult the manuscript, visit Using the Special Collections Reading Rooms. For any other enquiries please email uml.special-collections@manchester.ac.uk.


    A. F. L. Beeston, Catalogue of the Persian, Turkish, Hindûstânî, and Pushtû Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Part III (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954), p. 31, no. 2584 [Bodl. Ms. Whinfield 44, &c.].
    H. Ethé, Catalogue of Persian manuscripts in the library of the India Office, Vol. 1 (London: Printed for the India Office by H. Hart, 1903), col. 656, no. 1117/4, [British Library IO Islamic 876].
    C. Huart, 'Gulistān' Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1st Ed., Vol. II, Edited by M. Th. Houtsma, T. W. Arnold, R. Basset, and R. Hartmann (1927) p. 182
    Franklin Lewis, 'Golestān-e Saʿdī', Encyclopædia Iranica, Vol. XI, Fasc. 1 (1999): pp. pp. 79-86 .
    C. Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian manuscripts in the British Museum, Vol. II (London: British Museum1881), p. 597 [British Library Add. 24944/7].
    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. 541, no. 698 [Bodl. 673].
    Saʻdī (ca. 1193–1292) The Gulistan (Rose Garden) of Sa'di : Bilingual English and Persian Edition with Vocabulary. Translated by Wheeler M. Thackston. Bethesda, MD: Ibex, 2008.
    C. A. Storey [Online] (2021), Persian Literature: A Bio-bibliographical Survey, Vol. 3 Pt. 3 Tales no. 688.
    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]): p. 164, no. 2.

Funding of Cataloguing

The John Rylands Research Institute and Library

The Soudavar Memorial Foundation


Comment on this record

Please fill out your details.

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

See the Availability section of this record for information on viewing the item in a reading room.