Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

RSPA 83 (Oriental Manuscripts, British Library)

India Office Library

Jones Collection

Royal Society Arabic and Persian


Section of a Ḥanafī legal text

Language(s): Arabic

Incipit:  بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم. كتاب البيوع. البيع ينعقد بالأيجاب والقبول إذا كان بلفظ الماضي نحو أن يقول أحدهما بِعتُ والآخر اشتريتُ
Explicit: ومن أوصى بثلث ماله ولا مال له ثم اكنسب مالاً استحق له ثلث ما يكمله عند الموت

Attached to f(i)r is a piece of tape which bears the writing "Mr Wilkins's Catal. No 137a." referring to Charles Wilkins' initial cataloguing of Jones's manuscripts sent to the Royal Society, published in 1799.

The scribal hand looks to be the same as MS RSPA 82 and Dennison Ross and Browne have suggested this manuscript was copied out by al-Ḥajj ʿAbd Allāh al-Makkī, who was employed by Jones and who signed MS RSPA 92 in the same hand.

Text is incomplete; the manuscript begins with Kitāb al-Buyūʿand runs until Kitāb al-farāʾiḍ. The chapter heading for Kitāb al-farāʾiḍ is preserved in the MS underneath the explicit as a final rubric but the text remains unfinished.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: European papers bearing different watermarks, including "Pro Patria" (Maid of Dort style), "GR" with a crown, Britannia watermark, the paper mill of Charles Taylor in Kent (e.g. f55) bearing the watermark "C TAYLOR". Other watermarks include "BUDGEN" (e.g. f13) and "[C?][&T?]HONI[G?]" (e.g. f128). The paper is partially burnished; the area roughly 3.5cm in from the outer margin then covering the text and proceeding into the inner margin is burnished.
Extent: ff.ii+196+ii
Dimensions (leaf): 320 × 190 mm.
Dimensions (written): 200 × 110 mm.

European numerals in pencil.


The text is in excellent condition and is at all times legible, despite occasional smudges or stains.

f20r has a stain on it.

f67 has a small rip which is taped up.

f78r-f84v has a very small untaped rip on the top of the page.

f91v there is a small smudge on one word which remains legible.

f102v-103r is lightly smudged.

f123r has a smudge on it.

f173v-174r has some staining.

f178v has a light smudge on it and some damage to the paper in that area.


9 neatly written lines equally spaced apart.


Written in a very clear naskh script, vocalised throughout, using black ink. Rubrications, annotations and mistakes are written in red ink.


Standard neat naskh manuscript of this part of the text with no outstanding decorative features.

Elongation markers (four dots in a diamond shape) are used to justify the columns. Rubrications, chapter headings and mistakes are in red ink.


Catchwords present on each folio.

In Jones' handwriting (unsigned), the initial page f1r has the following text written on it in the form of a title page: "An Abridgement, or Institutes of the Law of Contracts by Abu'l-Hasan Ahmed of Baghdad surnamed al-Kudúrī who died Y.H. 428, Y.C. 1036; the Hidáyah by Burhánu'ddīn Al-Marghinánī [written above this: of Marghinán](who died Y.H. 591, Y.C. 1194) is A Comment on this book." On f(1)v, explaining "Al-Marghinánī", he writes "Màrghinán: right in the district of Ferghána."


Brown standard half leather India Office binding with plain endpapers.

Accompanying Material



Provenance and Acquisition

RSPA 1-118 were presented to the Royal Society in January 1792 by Sir William and Lady Jones.

According to the Wilkins Catalogue, MS RSPA 83 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.61 no. LXXXIII. Manuscript history also sourced from Charles Wilkins's Catalogue of Oriental Manuscripts Presented to the Royal Society by Sir William and Lady Jones. By Charles Wilkins, Esq. F. R. S.(London: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 89, 1799), p.341 no.137.


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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