Persian MS 944 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)
For another copy of this work held in the Rylands, see Persian MS 229, also the first work within an incorrectly titled Khamsah (Quintet), Persian MS 227, and a Haft Awrang (Seven Thrones), Persian MS 949, and the Kullīyāt (Complete Works), Persian MS 601.
Written in a 3-column layout with 15 lines in the inner two and 10 oblique lines the outer one. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.
Written in clear black nasta‘līq with white subheaders on gold grounds, by Muḥammad Qavvām Shīrāzī.
Ilumination: Folios 1b to 2a feature fully gilt opening carpet pages featuring scrollwork designs with the heads of animals, faeries, and other creatures (wāqwāq).
Folio 106b the start of Book Two, bears a scalloped domed headpiece infilled with gilt palmette foliate scrollwork executed on an an ultramarine ground, with the title inscribed in white within a central pendant upon a gilt ground.
74 × 65 mm.
Folio 148b, the start of Book Three, also bears a scalloped domed headpiece infilled with gilt palmette foliate scrollwork on an ultramarine ground, with the title inscribed in white within a central pendant upon a gilt ground, and two gold cornerpieces underneath.
72 × 65 mm.
Ruling: Folios 1b and 2a ruled in gold outlined with thin black lines, and surrounded by another single line. The margins of folios 2b onwards ruled with single lines of ultramarine blue.
Inscriptions: The right flyleaf a side (f. ia) bears a pencilled inscription in the hand of an unidentified former owner, who possibly initialled it underneath.
‘The Silsilat uz-Zahab
(Chain of Gold)
of Jami c. 1700
Copied by Muhammad
followed by an unintelligable scribble, perhaps indicating a date or someone's initials.
Bound in a luxurious, contempory Safavid-era binding.
Sewn at two unsupported stations. Edges trimmed, and twined chevron endbands worked in indigo and natural silk threads at head and tail. Flyleaves of European-made laid paper with ~11 laid lines per cm and ~29 mm between chain lines added at the beginning and end when restored. Original covers of dark brown goatskin leather over pasteboards, cut flush with the edges and originally with a flap (Type II binding as per Déroche), now wanting. Interior doublures lined with a medium-brown goatskin leather. Spine subsequently recovered in black sheepskin leather to reattach the boards, now failed.
Board exteriors feature blocked recessed central panels decorated with geometric laced design infilled with floral scrollwork over painted in both yellow and green gold grounds. An intermediate raised margin features wide gold ruling outlined with two thin vertical lines and double horizonal lines, with two horizontal bands at top and bottom with foliate scrollwork handpainted on the leather. The surrounding board margins bear alternating recessed quatrefoils, all outlined with single lines and puctuated with intervening foliate motifs. The exterior margins feature a narrow band of gold tooled with a rope design, outlined with thin handpainted ruled lines in gold. Interior doublure margins bear hand-tooled double-fillet lines in gold. Title written on the tail.
223 × 136 × 33 mm.
Handle binding with caution. Boards detached, edges and corners bumped and exposed.
Folio 2b, top-right, bears an illegible rounded hexagonal seal impression, probably in three stacked lines, double-ruled.
11 × 15 mm.
Provenance and Acquisition
The circumstances under which this volume arrived in Britain remain unclear, but subsequently acquired by Dr David Lloyd Roberts (1835-1920) of Manchester.
After Robert's death, bequeathed to the John Rylands Library in 1921.
Bibliographical description derived from an unpublished hand-list of additional Persian manuscripts.
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.
Funding of Cataloguing
The John Rylands Research Institute and Library
The Soudavar Memorial Foundation