Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 1 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: A Persian translation of the ʻAjā’ib al-Makhlūqāt va Gharāʼib al-Mawjūdāt (Wonders of Creation and Oddities of Existence), Qazvīnī's famous medieval Arabic cosmography. Albeit unsigned and undated, it contains 200 illustrations.
Title: ʻAjāyib al-Makhlūqāt
Title: عجايب المخلوقات
Title: عجايب المخلوقات و غرائب الموجودات
Title: ʻAjā’ib al-Makhlūqāt va Gharāʼib al-Mawjūdāt
Title: ʻAjā’ib al-Makhlūqāt wa-Gharāʼib al-Mawjūdāt
Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Dimensions (leaf): 226 × 145 mm.




Around 200 unframed, coloured illustrations placed within the text.



Provenance and Acquisition

Formerly owned by Captain Archibald Swinton (1731–1804), who served in the East India Company from 1752 to 1766, initially as a surgeon then later as an interpreter and emissary for Lord Robert Clive (1725–1774), the first Governor of the Bengal Presidency. After amassing a significant collection of manuscripts and works of art, he returned to Britain where he evidently hd volumes similarly rebound.

After his death, James Christie Jr (1773–1831) sold Swinton's collection in London on 6 June 1810, where it sold for 7 shillings.

Possibly purchased at the sale by John Haddon Hindley (1765–1827)

Subsequntly acquired by Samuel Hawtayne Lewin (d.1840), one of the Six Clerks of the Court of Chancery and Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society (1829–1840).

Later obtained by scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865) for his library at Randalls Park, Leatherhead. After his death, London bookseller Bernard Quaritch (1819–1899) sold his oriental manuscripts to Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford (1812–1880) in 1866, and moved to Bibliotheca Lindesiana at Haigh Hall, Wigan.

Purchased by Enriqueta Rylands (1843–1908) in 1901 from James Ludovic Lindsay, 26th Earl of Crawford (1847–1913).

Bequeathed by Enriqueta Rylands (1843–1908) in 1908 to the John Rylands Library, Manchester.

Record Sources

Bibliographical description based on an index created by Reza Navabpour circa 1993, derived from a manuscript catalogue by Michael Kerney, circa 1890s, concisely published as Bibliotheca Lindesiana, Hand-list of Oriental Manuscripts: Arabic, Persian, Turkish, 1898.

Manuscript description by Jake Benson in 2022 with reference to the volume in hand, and in consultation with Dr. Vivek Gupta, Jesus College, University of Cambridge.


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.


    I. Afshār, ʿAǰāʾeb al-Maḵlūqāt: ii Persian Works, Encyclopædia Iranica Vol. I, Fasc. 7 (1985), pp. 696–699.
    M. Bayānī, and Ḥ. M. Ardakānī, Kitābshināsī-yi Kitāb'hā-yi Khaṭṭī. ([Tehran]: [Dānishgāh-i Tihrān], 1353 SH [1974 CE]), p. 39.
    A. F. L. Beeston, Catalogue of the Persian, Turkish, Hindûstânî, and Pushtû Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Part III (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954), p. 15 no. 2506 [Bodl. Ms. Pers. d. 61].
    P. Berlekamp, Wonder, Image, and Cosmos in Medieval Islam. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011.
    C. Brockelmann, Geschichte der Arabischen Literatur (1892–1902) GAL I.478; GAL Supp. I. 878.
    C. Brockelmann, Brockelmann in English: The History of the Arabic Written Tradition Online Translated by J. J. Witkam. (Leiden: Brill 2017), pp. 882–883, no. 12.
    Fayz̤ Muḥammd Kātib Hazārah, The History of Afghanistan: Fayż Muḥammad Kātib Hazārah’s Sirāj Al-tawārīkh , Vol. 1. Translated by R. D. McChesney, and M. M. Khorrami (Leiden: Brill, 2013), pp. 59, 89–90 [ms ff. 37, 56].
    V. Gupta, 'Remapping the World in a Fifteenth-Century Cosmography: Genres and Networks between Deccan India and Iran', Indo-Persian Manuscripts special issue of Iran: Journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies, Vol. 59, No. 2 (2021): pp. 151–168.
    Rukn al-Dīn Humāyūnfarrukh, Rāhnimā-yi Kitāb Vol. 14, Nos. 4–6 (1350 SH [June–Sept. 1971]): p. 245.
    C. Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian manuscripts in the British Museum, Vol. II (London: British Museum, 1881), p. 464 [BL Add. 23564].
    C. Rieu, Supplement to the Catalogue of the Arabic Manuscripts in the British Museum (London: British Museum, 1894), pp. 473–474 nos. 698–699 [BL Or. 1527 and Or. 4217].
    B. W. Robinson, Persian Paintings in the John Rylands Library: A Descriptive Catalogue (London: Sotheby Parke Bernet Publications, 1980), pp. 295–330, nos. 1126–1480.
    K. Rührdanz, 'Illustrated Persian ‘Ajā’ib al-Makhlūqāt Manuscripts and their Function in Early Modern Times', Society and Culture in the Early Modern Middle East: Studies on Iran in the Safavid Period, Edited by Andrew J. Newman (Leiden: Brill, 2003), pp. 33–47.
    K. Rührdanz, 'An Ottoman Illustrated Version of al-Ṭūsī’s ‘Ajā’ib al-Makhlūqāt', Mélanges Prof. Machiel Kiel, Edited. A. Temimi et al. (Zaghouan: Fondation Temimi pour la recherche scientifique et l'information 1999), pp. 455–475.
    K. Rührdanz, 'Zakariyyā al-Qazwīni on the Inhabitants of the Supralunar World: From the First Persian Version (659/1260–61) to the Second Arabic Redaction (678/1279–80)'. The Intermediate Worlds of Angels: Islamic Representations of Celestial Beings in Transcultural Contexts: Beiruter Texte Und Studien 114, edited by Sara Kuehn, Stefan Leder, and Hans-Peter Pokel (2019): pp. 384–402.
    E. Sachau and H. Ethé, Catalogue of the Persian, Turkish, Hindûstani, and Pushtû manuscripts in the Bodleian Library Vol I (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1889), col. 399, no. 397 [Bodl. Ouseley 312].
    Kidambi Srinivasa Santha, The B (Varanasi: Bharati Prakashan , 1980): 57, 304 n99.
    C. A. Storey, Persian Literature: A Bio-bibliographical Survey, Vol. II, Pt. 1 (London: Luzac & Co., 1953), p. 126.
    N. Titley, Persian Miniature Painting and its Influence on the Art of Turkey and India: The British Library Collections (London: British Library, 1983), pp. 87–91, no. 238 [BL Add. 23564].
    T. Zadeh, Wonders and Rarities: The Marvelous Book That Traveled the World and Mapped the Cosmos. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2022.

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute


Comment on this record

Please fill out your details.

How are we using your feedback? See our privacy policy.

See the Availability section of this record for information on viewing the item in a reading room.