Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 991 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: A copy of the Bahār-i Dānish (Spring of Wisdom) by ʻInāyat Allāh (d. ca. 1671), relates the romantic adventures of Jahāndār Sulṭān and Bahravar Bānū, which serves as a frame story interwoven with other tales. An unidentified scribe completed this volume in Awadh on 17 Rajab 1153 AH (8 Oct. 1740 CE), possibly in Awadh, where the French mercenary Jean-Baptiste Joseph Gentil (d. 1799). One of six copies held in the Rylands, this redaction lacks the preface by the author's younger brother and pupil Muḥammad Ṣāliḥ often found in other volumes, and instead opens with his own introduction in which he explains how he adapted the tale from one that he heard a young Brahmin recite. The volume also contains a glossary appended to the text that explains many terms.
Incipit: (basmala) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): و بتاج پیرایه ده دیباچه سخن حمد حگیمی است که ملک معنی را بوساطت ⟨تیغ⟩ ناطقه...
Explicit: سیه کاری مکن چون خامهٔ خویش * بشو از چشم بر خون نامه‌ٔ خویش | زبان را گوشمالی خاموشی ده * که هست از هرچه کوئی خاموشی به.
Colophon: ۱تمت هذا النسخه البدلو(؟) المسمی بهار دانش تصنیف عنایت‌الله بتاریخ هفتدهم ۱۷ شهر رجب المرجب سنه ۱۱۵۳ هجری مطابق سنه ۱۱۴۸ فصلی موافق ۲۳ جلوس واله محمد شاه بادشاه عالمگیر غازی خلد الله ملکه به خط بنده درگاه بهاکر داس ولد بهسکر رخ(؟) ابن بهار ملوک ساکن شاه‌ریار(؟) دلیرخانی(؟) نفس صورت تحریر یافت.
Colophon: Completed by Bhākar Dās valad-i Bhaskar Rukh ibn Bihar Mulūk(?) resident of Shāhrīyār Dalīkhānī(?) on 17 Rajab 1153 AH (8 Oct. 1740 CE), ‘equal to 1148 Faṣlī in concordance with the 23rd year of Muḥammad Shāh's reign’.
Language(s): Persian
Author: Anonymous
Language(s): Persian

S. H. Qasemi documents 244 manuscripts and printed editions of this work. C. A. Storey also notes various manuscripts and translations into English, German, French, Turkish, and Urdu. For other copies of this work held in the Rylands, see Persian MS 88, 199, 463, 919, and and 1017. For another glossary of terms found in this work entitled Rang-i Bahār by ‘Abd al-Bāqī, see Persian MS 477.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Extent: 231 folios, 3 flyleaves (ff. ii + 231 + 11 + i).
Dimensions (leaf): 270 × 154 mm.
Dimensions (written): 210 × 115 mm.
Foliation: Hindu-Arabic numerals references in this record written in black ink at the top-centres of the a sides on folios 1a to 22a, then switch the upper-right corners of the b sides thereafter.
Foliation: Modern Arabic folio numerals on the upper-right corners of the b sides, which run from right-to-left.


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


Handle text with caution. Beware of fold-outs at the fore-edge throughout. In fair but condition, with moderate water and insect damage and extensive historical repairs throughout.


Written in 1 column with 19 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Written in a hasty black shikastah hand with red subheaders.

  • The second right flyleaf a side (f. iib) numbered ‘Nº 18’ in pencil at top, with a French description of the work underneath:
    ‘Roman sur les minauderies simagrées des femmes por un Secretaire de Chadjahan Nommé Enayatolla.’.
  • Folios 10a and b inscribed with .
Bookplates: Left pastedown: ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with pencilled shelfmark ‘2/K’, and ‘Bland MSS No. 327’.


Probably rebound for the Univeristy of Manchester Library in the mid-20th century.

Resewn, with modern, heavy-weight, ivoury-coloured, machine-made wove endpapers added at the beginning and end. Edges left untrimmed, spine lined, with one machine-made headband adhered to the head only. Covered in quarter chieftain goatskin leather with commercially printed 'shell'-patterned marbled paper sides.

Spine bears four false raised bands. Bands paletted with two parallel single fillets with trefoils at right and left, and a blind lines on either side. Titled:
ALLAH’. Compare with the rebacked spines of Persian MS 977 and 978

280 × 178 × 46 mm.

Handle binding with caution. In fair but stable condition, tightly very sewn with restricted openings to the gutter margins.


The second right flyleaf a side (f. iia) bears a rectangular black seal impression, intaglio-carved in three stacked nasta‘līq lines, double-ruled, with the name of Jean-Baptiste Joseph Gentil dated 1182 AH (1768–69 CE):
‘جنتیل بهادر ناظم جنگ مدیر الملک رفیع الدوله ۱۱۸۲’
18 × 22 mm.

Accompanying Material

  • A letter hinged between the second right folio b side (iib) to 1a bears a folded letter dated 30 June 1918 written by University of Manchester lecturer of Semitic languages Maurice A Canney to the Vice-Chancellor when he returned the volume with his assesmentof it.
  • A quaternion appended to the end of the volume bears a glossary of terms in the text in a hasty shikastah hand (compare with Persian MS 477) followed by Arabic prayers interspersed with Persian commentaries, written in hasty naskh and nasta‘līq respectively.
  • Another singleton follows that bears random passages in yet another hasty shikastah hand that include a sleep remedy, verses, and anecdotes.


Origin: Completed by Bhākar Dās valad-i Bhaskar Rukh ibn Bihar Mulūk(?) resident of Shāhrīyār Dalīkhānī(?), possibly in Awadh; 17 Rajab 1153 AH (8 Oct. 1740 CE).

Provenance and Acquisition

Previously owned by Jean-Baptiste Gentil (1726–1799 CE) as per his seal impression on folio 1a. Presumably sold by Gentil before his death or by his family thereafter; however the circumstances of the volume's arrival in Britain remain unclear.

Subsequently acquired by one ‘Mrs. Barnston’ (or possibly ‘Bainston’?) who presented it to the University of Manchester Library; however the exact date remains unclear. She may possibly be Mary Emma Barnston (1837–1918), wife of Maj. William Barnston (1832–1872), and sister in-law of Maj. Roger Barnston (1826–1857) of Crewe Hill, Farndon, Cheshire. The latter served in India and ultimately died at Kanpur of wounds received at Lucknow in 1857. Hence, he may have acquired the volume during his tenure in India, which the family then receieved with his effects, which may explain how this volume arrived in Britain. After Roger's death, his brother William inherited Crewe Hill which Emma then managed after her husband passed, it until her son came of age in 1891. Note that although Rafiee-Rad's catalogue implies this volume formerly belonged to Samuel Robinson of Wilmslow, the evidence only suggests that Barnston ever owned it.

Transferred to the John Rylands Library in circa 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.


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    ‘Abd al-Muqtadir, Catalogue of the Arabic and Persian Manuscripts in the Oriental Public Library at (Bankipore) Patna, Vol. VIII (Calcutta: Baptist Mission Press, 1925), p. 182, nos. 741–742.
    A. Ashraf, A Catalogue of the Persian Books and Manuscripts in the Library of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. Calcutta: Baptist Mission Press, 1890), p. 48, nos. E 34–36.
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    ʻInāyat Allāh Kanbū Lāhūrī, Bahar-Danush; or, Garden of Knowledge. An Oriental Romance. Translated by Jonathan Scott. Shrewsbury: Printed by J. and W. Eddowes, 1799.
    ʻInāyat Allāh Kanbū Lāhūrī, Bahār-i Dānish. Edited by Ḥasan Z̲ū al-Faqārī and ʿAbbās Saʿīdī. Tehran: Rushdʹāvarān, 1392 SH (2013 CE)
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    C. A. Storey [Online] (2021), Persian Literature: A Bio-bibliographical Survey, Vol. III, Pt. 3 Tales no. 728.
    P.P. Subrahmanya, A descriptive catalogue of the Islamic manuscripts in the Government Oriental manuscripts library, Madras, Vol. I (Madras: Government Press, 1939), pp. 394–397, nos. 323–326
    Ḥ. Z̲ū al-Faqārī, 'Bahār-i Dānish' Dā'irat al-Ma‘ārif-i Buzurg-i Islāmī, Vol. 13 (Tehran: Dā'irat al-Ma‘ārif Buzug-i Islāmī, 1383 SH (2004-05 CE), p. 93.

Funding of Cataloguing

The John Rylands Research Institute and Library

The Soudavar Memorial Foundation


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