Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 944 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: An beautifully copied and lavishly illuminated unillustrated copy of the Silsilat al-Ẕahab (Golden Chain), first of seven books from the Haft Awrang (Seven Thrones) by the late Timurid-era poet ‘Abd al-Raḥmān Jāmī (d. 1492). A Safavid calligrapher Muḥammad Qavvām Shīrāzī (fl. early 17th c.) probably completed this undated volume in Shiraz in the early 17th century.
Incipit: (basmala) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): لله الحمد قبل کل کلام * بصفات الجلال والاکرام
Explicit: برگ ۱۷۸ر (folio 178a): ...به همین نکته ختم شد مقصود * لله الحمد والعلی والجود
Colophon: تم الکتاب سلسلة الذهب کتبه محمد قوام شیرازی
Colophon: Completed by Muḥammad Qivām Shīrāzī.
Language(s): Persian

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.

Title: Book One
Title: Daftar-i Avvāl
Title: دفتر اوّل
Title: Book of Faith
Title: ‘Itiqādnāmah
Title: اعتقادنامه
Title: Book Two
Title: Daftar-i Duvum
Title: دفتر دوم
Title: Book Three
Title: Daftar-i Sivum
Title: دفتر دوم

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Textblock of straight and cross-grained, evenly formed, externally sized and polished, ivoury-coloured paper probably handmade in the Safavid Empire with ~10 laid lines per cm and no discernible chain lines.
Extent: 178 folios, 2 flyleaves (ff. i + 178 + i).
Dimensions (leaf): 220 × 133 mm.
Dimensions (written): 140 × 70 mm.
Foliation: Pencilled Arabic numerals added to the upper-left corners of the a sides when catalogued.


Undetermined. Catchwords throughout most of the lower-left corners of the b sides.


Handle text with extreme caution. In very poor condition, with extensive staining and pigment transfer due to excessive moisture or water, and resulting mould damage, especially at the head and upper corners. Many breaks in the marginal ruling resulting from corrosive copper acetate (verdigris). Folios 96 to 103 left excessively trimmed at the head. Folios 104 onwards heavily repaired at the head and corners with European-made laid paper.


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
Qavám ush-Shírází’,
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.

Two immolated black intaglio-carved seal impressions, one measurable.

Folio 2b, top-right, bears an illegible rounded hexagonal seal impression, probably in three stacked lines, double-ruled.
11 × 15 mm.


Origin: Completed by Muḥammad Qivām Shīrāzī probably in Shiraz; undated, but probably completed in circa 1600 CE.

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.

Record Sources

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.


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.


Funding of Cataloguing

The John Rylands Research Institute and Library

The Soudavar Memorial Foundation


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