Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 984 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: This 14th-century volume of the Mas̲navī-i Ma‘navī (Spiritual Couplets) by Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī (1207–1273), contains all six books but lacks an opening preface. A scribe named Maḥmūd ibn Mubārak completed it in 9 Muḥarram 758 AH (2 January 1357 CE), about 85 years after the author first composed it. Therefore, it not only constitutes the earliest example of this work held in the Rylands, but also among the most significant copies in Britain.
Title: Mas̲navī
Title: مثنوی
Scribe: Maḥmūd ibn Mubārak محمود ابن مبارک
Incipit: (beginning) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): بشنو از نی چون حکایت می کند * از جدایی ها شکایت می کند.
Colophon: Completed by a scribe named Maḥmūd ibn Mubārak in 9 Muḥarram 758 AH (2 January 1357 CE).
Language(s): Persian

For other copies of this work held in the Rylands, see Persian MS 17, 21, 72, 213, 236, 250–255 (Books I–VI), 795, 847, 848, 926, and 983 (Book I). For two earlier manuscripts held in British collections, see Meredith-Owens catalogue. For critical editions, see Isti‘lāmī and Furūzānfar. For a recent English translation of the first two books based on the former edition, see Williams. For earlier translations, see Arberry, Nicholson, and Whinfield.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Dimensions (leaf): 298 × 215 mm.
Dimensions (written): 223 × 115 mm.


Primarily written in black nasta‘līq with red subheaders by Maḥmūd ibn Mubārak.


Ruling: Margins ruled in red single lines throughout.

Marginalia: Notations and corrections in various hands throughout. Bookplates: The final right flyleaf b side (f. ivb): Owens College, ‘Bequeathed by Samuel Robinson, of Wilmslow, 1884’.
Left pastedown: ‘Samuel Robinson, Blackbrook Cottage, Wilmslow’.

Accompanying Material

A letter dated 4 December 1975 accompanies the volume, written by David Brady (Middle Eastern Librarian in the University of Manchester from the late 1960s to the 1980s) to Glenys Matheson (Keeper of Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library until the 1980s):
‘Dear Miss Matheson, I am sending to you a Persian manuscript which has been kept in the Cataloguing Room here at least as long as I have been here. I think that it is time that it joined the Persian manuscripts collection at Deansgate. The appended card contains some information about the manuscript, which I managed to discover a few years ago. Best wishes, David Brady’.


Origin: Completed by a scribe named Maḥmūd ibn Mubārak 9 Muḥarram 758 AH (2 January 1357 CE).

Provenance and Acquisition

Subsequently acquired by Manchester merchant and scholar Samuel Robinson (1794–1884) of Wilmslow who donated it to Owens College (the original institution that evolved into the of The University of Manchester today).

Unknown. Transferred to the John Rylands Library in 1975 after it merged with the University of Manchester.

Record Sources

Bibliographical description derived from Siavash Rafiee-Rad, 'Persian Manuscripts in Samuel Robinson’s Collection in The John Rylands Library' (2017).

Manuscript description by Jake Benson in 2022 with reference to the volume in hand.


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


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