Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

RSPA 100 (Oriental Manuscripts, British Library)

India Office Library

Jones Collection

Royal Society Arabic and Persian


1 copy of al-Qāmūs al-Muḥīṭ by al-Fīrūzābādī, Majd al-Dīn Abū l-Ṭāhir Muḥammad ibn Yaʿqūb ibn Muḥammad ibn Ibrāhīm

Language(s): Arabic

Incipit: بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم الحمد لله منطق البلغاء باللغى في البوادي ومودع اللسان السن اللسن الهوادي.
Explicit: وحسبنا الله ونعم الوكيل ولا حول ولا قوة إلا بالله والله أعلم.
Colophon: وكان الفراغ من كتابة هذا القاموس المعظم نهار الأحد المبارك سابع شهر شوال الوقيع في سنة عشر بعد الألف من الهجرة النبوية على صاحبها أفضل الصلوة والتسليم صلاة دايمة تامة إلى يوم الدين. وذلك بخط العبد الفقير الذئنب والقصير الراجي عفو ربه المنان محمد ابن عبد الرحمن السمان الاصبحي غفر الله له ولوالديه ولجميع المسلمين آمين آمين.

Arabic-Arabic dictionary

Translation of the colophon: "The writing of this great dictionary ended on the afternoon of Sunday the 7th Shawwāl in the year 1010 after the Prophetic Hijrah, upon whom be the greatest of blessings and prayer from now until the Day of Judgement. This dictionary was written by the humble and sinful servant, who hopes for the forgiveness of his Bestowing Lord, Muḥammad ibn ʾAbd al-Raḥmān al-Sammān al-Iṣbaḥī. May God forgive him and his parents and all the Muslims, Amen, Amen." This tells us both the date and name of the copyist; the date in the Gregorian calendar is March 31st 1602.

Gold and dark blue headpiece with a floral design, in which Jones has written his own name (f1v).

Gold and blue shamsah within rectangular frame with upper and lower bands (f1r).

Shamsah inscribed: "The gift of F. Balfour to Sir W. Jones". This refers to Francis Balfour(d.1818), who also signs his name on the bottom of this page. Balfour was a medical officer in colonial British India and an early member of Jones's Bengal Asiatic Society. Like Jones, he took a great interest in Arabic, Persian and Hindi-Urdu languages and literatures.

On f483v, there is the remnants of an ownership note and seal, but they have been effaced to such an extent that it is illegible.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Thin light brown and heavily repaired woven paper.
Extent: ff.ii+483+iv
Dimensions (leaf): 280 × 200 mm.
Dimensions (written): 180 × 90 mm.

European numerals in pencil.


The textblock is generally in good condition, as the support has undergone extensive repairs for lots of worm damage and other effects of wear and tear (e.g. rips, holes), and is generally well-maintained, thanks to the addition of guards and supports. The illuminations and decorations remain in excellent condition. There are some stains and smudges, e.g. ff74-6.


35 lines per page.


Very small and neat black naskh with vocalisations and rubrications. Scribe is: Muḥammad ibn ʾAbd al-Raḥmān al-Sammān al-Iṣbaḥī.


The textblock is highly decorated with gilded textboxes and red separation markers. Chapter headings (between the different letters of the alphabet) are marked off by a gold and dark blue band across the textbox.


Catchwords on every page.


Standard brown-maroon half-leather India Office binding.

Accompanying Material


Origin: 7_Shawwal_1010 AH; 31 March 1602 CE ;

Provenance and Acquisition

RSPA 1-118 were presented to the Royal Society in January 1792 by Sir William and Lady Jones. According to Wilkins, this MS was presented by Lady Jones.

The Royal Society's collection of 280 Persian and Arabic, and 86 Sanskrit manuscripts were transferred to the India Office Library in 1876.


India Office Library

Record Sources

Manuscript description based on E. Denison Ross and E. G. Browne, Catalogue of two collections of Persian and Arabic manuscripts preserved in the India Office Library (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1902), p. 67 no. C


Entry to read in the Library is permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card for admissions procedures contact British Library, Registering for a Reader Pass. Contact apac-enquiries@bl.uk for further information on the availability of this manuscript. For information on catalogues and ordering manuscripts see Finding and ordering Persian manuscripts in the British Library.

Funding of Cataloguing



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