Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

RSPA 107 (Oriental Manuscripts, British Library)

India Office Library

Jones Collection

Royal Society Arabic and Persian


1 copy of Dīwān Abī al-Ṭayyib al-Mutanabbī by al-Mutanabbī, Abū al-Ṭayyib Aḥmad ibn al-Ḥusayn

Language(s): Arabic

The poetical works of al-Mutanabbī.

The date given for al-Mutanabbī's death in the rubric is wrong and confusing. It should read 354AH. Perhaps the scribe began writing the manuscript in 1033AH.

F.158v-159r is a series of recipes for various herb mixes written in a less formal register of Arabic and with numerical glyphs. This appears to be the same hand as the one that wrote the ownership note (on f159r) in 1701.

There are two important notes from owners. The first, on f1v, says في نوبة فقير الطاف الملك العلي محمد البكري الحموي ابن كيد علي في ربيع الأول سنة 1183. The second (f158r): – ملكه من فضل ربه" المغين عبده السيد حسين ابن الحاج علي الحموي من بني الاعوج عفي عنه مولاة في شهر محرم الحرام في افتتاح سنة 1113. For comparison, the date in the colophon translates to 10th March 1664/1st Muḥarram 1054.

This manuscript was received by Jones as a gift from a certain ʿAbd al-Raḥman Beg whom Jones discusses in some of his letters. The man was unknown to him. ʿAbd al-Raḥman Beg wrote a prefatory poem in the manuscript, which it would appear was translated by Jones; although the translation has been ripped out, a small part of it remains clearly visible on the previous (absent) folio. Underneath the poem, Jones wrote "I received this valuable manuscript by the hands of Mr. Howard to whose care it was entrusted in June 1774 at Venice by Mr. W. Montagu. It was a present from Abderrahman Beg who wrote the Arabick verse in this page, which are so flattering to me that I can hardly translate them without blushing. W.J. 3rd October 1774."

ʿAbd al-Raḥman Beg has written out a large sheet of the poetic metres (for Jones?) that is just folded loose in the manuscript.

Incipit: بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم. الحمد لله الذي جعل كلام الملوك أبلع الكلام.
Explicit: وحي من الهيران أن يرآني *** وقد فارقت دارم واصطفا
Colophon: هذه آخر النسخة ديوان أبي الطيب المتنبي رحمه الله تعالى عليه وعلينا وعلى المسلمين أجمعين نجز بحمد الله تعالى وحسن نوفيقه في صحة نهار الخميس المبارك في غرة شهر المحرم افتتاح سنة 1054 أحسن الله ختامه بخير بمحمد وآله وصحبه وسلم ... وكتب برسم واسم السيد حسين ابن المرحوم السيد محمد الحموي رحم الله سلفه وجعل الله البركة فيه وفي ولده والمرحوم والمرحوم طالع في هذا الديوان أن ينجزا وزعن سقطان الأقلام فأن الإنسان لا يخلوا من السهر واللهو والزلل والحمد لله وحده.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Light cream woven paper.
Extent: ff. i+158+1+iii
Dimensions (leaf): 200 × 130 mm.
Dimensions (written): 150 × 75 mm.

European numerals in pencil.


Textblock is in relatively good quality and the MS has sustained little damage to the actual pages, except for a large brown stain in the top corner of the first few folios. The binding has fully ripped apart, however, and now the manuscript is in several pieces with many loose folios.


Very neat layout of 19 lines per column per page.


Black naskh backward slanting. Red ink is used for the headings and non-poetic material with brown ink used for the narrative additions e.g. f39. The scribe was Ḥusayn ibn Muḥammad al-Ḥamawī.


Red ruled margins



Brown leather islamic binding with mandorla and marbled endpapers.

Accompanying Material


Origin: 1_Muḥarram_1054 AH; 10 March 1664 CE ; Ottoman Empire

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 manuscript was presented by Sir William 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. 70 no. CVIII


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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