Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 947 (The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: This sole surviving copy of the initial portion of the Vasā'il al-Rasā'il va Dalā'il al-Faz̤a'il (Pretenses of Letters and Proofs of Bounties) by Khwarazmian-era secretary Nūr al-Dīn Munshī fl. 13th cent. documents events during the reign of his patron, the final ruler of the dynasty Jalāl al-Dīn Mingburnu (r. 1220–1231) and his brother Ghīyās̱ al-Dīn Pīr Shāh (fl. early 13th cent.). While undated, the paper, ink, and script all suggest that the volume likely dates to the medieval period, and the İzzet Koyunoğlu Foundation library in Konya, Turkey holds the corresponding latter half of the manuscript. Together, the complete work contains four chapters of proverbs and metaphors, correspondence and responses, spiritual treatises and studies, and stories and letters written to caliphs, kings, and their servants. Considered together, this work not only sheds valuable light on the the decline of Khwarazm and Mongol ascendancy, but also emergence of ornate prose during the medieval period, emulated by successive dynasties.
Title: وسائل الرسائل و دلائل الفضائل
Incipit: (basmalla) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): القسم الثانی من وسائل الرسائل و دلائل الفضائل. این خدمت بحضرت سلطان جلال‌الدین خلد الله سلطانه بوقت آنک در بلاد دهند او را با ملا عین کفار با تار خدلهم الله اتفاق ملاقات انفاذو بر ایشان ظفر بافت تحریر افتاد..
Explicit: برگ ۱۴۳پ (folio 143b): و سر از ربقهٔ طاعت و تباعت انسان تن نتابند چنانک کار سلطنت او بواسطه طاعت یشان متمشی شود و فراغت و رفاهت...
Colophon: No colophon.

Riz̤ā Samīʻʹzādah published a critical edition of the text based upon this manuscript and the other surviving half in Konya.

Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Primarily cross-grained medium weight, straw-coloured, heavily flocked, sized and polished paper, possibly handmade in Greater Iran.
Extent: 143 folios (143 + iv)
Dimensions (leaf): 235 × 160 mm.
Dimensions (written): 186 × 116 mm.
Foliation: Foliated in pencilled Arabic numberals at top of the a sides when catalogued.


Varied collation, probably originally quinternions throughout. 1II(4)1VI(15)2IV(38)1VI(50)1III(57)6V(1118)1IV+1(127)2IV(135)1IV(143). No catchwords.


Handle with caution. In poor condition with extensive water and insect damage and historical repairs throughout.


Written in 1 to 2 columns, with 17 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭārah hand guide.


Written primarily in black and sepia naskh script with sub-headers in red.


  • The right pastedown bears a pasted note in Arabic and English that describes the work but misattributes authroship to Rashīd al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad, Vaṭvāṭ (ca. 1114–1182).
  • Folios 1a and 4a inscribed by former owner Muḥammad Rashīd, the latter adjacent to his seal impression and a price of 25.
    ‘محمد رشيد دارنده وى’


Rebound in the 19th century. Unsupported sewing at two stations pasteboards, with twined chevron endbands worked in pink and blue ilk threads. Spine, flap, and board edges all hemmed in medium brown goatskin leather faced with a roller=printed decorated papers, with a flap (type II binding per Déroche). Board interiors lined with blue paper. A binion of straight-grained, ivoury-coloured, unwatermarked European wove paper added only at the end.

A paper label adhered to the spine bears the title in naskh.

241 × 196 × 52 mm.

Handle binding with caution. In poor condition with exterior leather and paper delaminating, signs of insect damage, and broken or loose sewing throughout. The fore-edge flap fits improperly, which causes the envelope flap and right board to yawn. Boxed.

Two seals impressions of former owners, both intaglio carved in nasta‘līq script.

1: Folio 1a bears partially-legible blue circular seal impression, with a central inscription stacked in three lines double-ruled, surrounded by four cartouches, single ruled, one of which clearly names former owner Jibrā'īl bin Yūsuf al-Mukhalla‘ (d. 1851), albeit posthumously dated 1877. ~38

2: Folio 4a bears a black oval seal impressions of a former owner named Muḥammad Rashīd, in three stacked lines, single-ruled.

‘مجمد رشيد رب وفق امور’

13 × 15 mm.


Origin: Possibly completed in Greater Iran; undated, but possibly 14th century CE.

Provenance and Acquisition

Formerly owned by one Muḥammad Rashīd as per his seal impression on 4a and adjacent inscriptions there and on 1a.

Subsequently acquired Syrian scholar and translator Jibrā'īl bin Yūsuf al-Mukhalla‘ (d. 1851) as per his seal impression and adjacent notation on folio 1a, then auctioned together with the rest of his library in Damascus in 1920.

Evidently obtained by London antiquarian booksellers and publishers Luzac & Co..

Purchased by the John Rylands Library from Luzac & Co. in 1920.

Record Sources

Manuscript description by Jake Benson in 2022 with reference to an unpublished handlist and accession registers, and to the manuscript in hand.


The manuscript is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Digital Images

Manchester Digital Collections (full digital facsimile)



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