Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 147 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: An unfinished volume of the Nafāʾis al-Funūn fī ʿArāʾis al-ʿUyūn (Troves of the Arts in the Eyes of the Brides) by the Ilkhanid-era author Shams al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Maḥmūd Āmulī (d. ca. 1352). A famous encyclopedia describing one hundred and twenty different arts, the author modelled his work on another well-known medieval encyclopedia, Durrat al-Tāj (Pearl of the Crown) by Quṭb al-Shīrāzī (ca. 1236–1311). This finely copied manuscript regrettably contains many blank spaces likely intended for rubrics, diagrams, or illustrations, but then never finished, and lacks an informative colophon, but it appears possibly completed in either Iran or the Indian subcontinent during the 17th to 18th centuries.
Incipit: (basmalla) برگ ۱پ (Folio 1b): حمد و ثنا و شکری بی منتها حضرت پادشاهی را که افکار اذکیا و انظار عقلا در پیدای عظمت و معرفت گیریای اواز قصور ادراک هر دم ندای سبحانكماعر فانك میدهد...
Explicit: برگ ۴۸۳ر (Folio 483a): که هشت در دارد چندان سیب بر داشت که بر هر در چون نیمه‌‌ٔ آنچه با او بدا براد(؟) بوقتی که بیرون آمد یک سیب با او پیش نماند آن سیبها چند بوده باشد دویست و پنجاه و شیش بوده باشد و الله اعلم بالصواب.
Colophon: برگ ۴۸۳ر (Folio 483a): و الله اعلم بالصواب
Colophon: Colophon undated and unsigned.
Language(s): Persian

For another two-volume copy of this work, see Rylands Persian MS 148 and 149, as well as a single volume, Persian MS 369.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Textblock of domestic, straight-grained, ivory-coloured paper probably handmade in the Indian subcontinent with 8 laid lines per cm and no discernible chain lines.
Extent: 581 folios, 9 flyleaves (ff. iii + 581 + vi) .
Dimensions (leaf): 290 × 170 mm.
Dimensions (written): 230 × 105 mm.
Foliation: Pencilled Arabic numerals inscription on the upper-left corners of the a sides throughout.


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


In fair condition, with moderate water and insect damage, and corrosive verdigris copper pigment ruled lines breaking in the margins, especially in the gutters. Historical repairs throughout.


Written in 1 column with 23 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Written in very clear, neat black nasta‘līq with Arabic passages naskh, often in red, as well as other subheaders.


  • The first right flyleaf a side (f. ia) bears an insect-damaged notation dated 25 Ẕ[ū-a]l-Qa‘dah 1117 AH (10 Mar. 1706 CE), together with a price in both sīyāq numerals and written out for 100 rupees.
  • The third right flyleaf a side (f. iiib) bears the title in Persian and ‘Nº 170’ and ‘Nº110’
  • Folio 1a bears several notations:
    • Top: By the title in Persian, priced ‘100 Rs.’.
    • Middle:
    • Bottom: a longer inscription in fine nasta‘līq:
      ‘ نفایس الفنون بر کاغز حنایی بخط نسخ سرلوح طلا و لاچورد رنگ آمیز چهار ده سطری تمام کتاب بیست و سه سطری صفحهٔ اول مقابل سل(؟) طلا تمام کتاب جدول طلا و مرکب ولد خواجه مای بر آمد محل پیشکش مصطفی ۱۳ رمضان سنه ۴۳ چهره قلمی سده ’
    • A brief datedinspection notice
      ‘ ۱۹ ربیع الاپل سنه ۸۳ عرض دیده شد ’
    • Another brief dated inspection notice
      ‘ ۲۶ ربیع الاپل سنه ۴۴ عرض دیده شد ’
    • Bottom-left corner Brief dated note by Muḥammad Subah bin Sayyid ‘Alī al-Ardistānī, by his seal impression (no. 6), possibly dated 6 Shavvāl 1041 AH (CE 25 Apr. 1632):
      ‘ ...فی نوبه اقل خلق محمد سوبه بن سید علی الاردستانی فی ۵ (؟) شهر شوال سنه ۱۰۴۱ ’
  • Folio 1b, top, signed by former owner Sir Gore Ouseley.


The original binding appears likely Indian, then later restored for prior owner Sir Gore Ouseley.

Resewn on three supports laced into the original boards. Edges trimmed and twined chevron endbands worked in indigo and gilt threads at head and tail. Original boards covered in fine-grained medium-brown goatskin leather, with the spine recovered and board edges hemmed with a comparatively reddish brown goatskin leather, with defined joints but without squares at the edges or a flap (Type III binding per Déroche). Separate darker brown goatskin leather hinges connect the covers to the textblock.

Original boards bear remnants of gold-blocked recessed paper onlays for the scalloped central mandorlas, detached pendants, and corners, which feature irises. Spine paletted in the European manner in gold, with the title handwritten in gold nasta‘līq.

296 × 180 × 90 mm.

Folio 1a bears seven black intaglio-carved seal impressions:

1 (top-left): Partial round seal impression, in nasta‘līq script in 4 stacked lines, single ruled, with the name of a former associate of the emperor ‘Ālamgīr I, Muḥammad ‘Alī Khān:

‘ محمد علیخان مرید بادشاه عالمگیر ’


2: A small, oblierated seal impression, single ruled, appears underneath:

15 × 13 mm.

3 (middle): A partial, illegible round seal impression which appears again more clearly by the colophon on folio 581b, in five stacked lines of in muḥaqqaq script, double-ruled, with the name of a former owner or associate, Afz̤al al-Dīn Muḥammad:

‘ سکه‌ٔ العبد افضل الدین محمد ’

25 × 28 mm.

4 (bottom): Oval seal impression in nasta‘līq script in two stacked lines, single-ruled, of fomer owner or associate named Muḥammad Mahdī al-Ḥusaynī, dated 1068 AH (1658 CE) regnal year 31 of Shāh Jahān's reign.

15 × 138 mm.

5: Round seal impression, in nasta‘līq script in 3 stacked lines, single ruled, with the name of a former associate of Prince Shāh ‘Ālam I, Irshad Khān, dated 1112 AH (1700–01 CE) and regnal year 2 (year of crown princeship?):

‘ ارشد خان خانزاد شاه عالم باد شاه غازی سنه ۲ ۱۱۱۲ ’


6: A tiny oval seal impression in two lines of nasta‘līq on a floral ground possibly bears the name of Muḥammad Subah bin Sayyid ‘Alī al-Ardistānī, beside his notation.

‘ العبد سید محمد(؟) ’

8 × 14 mm.

7: Partially legible round seal impression with the name Muḥammad.



Origin: Possibly completed in either Greater Iran or the Indian subcontinent; undated, but probably 17th century CE.

Provenance and Acquisition

Prior Mughal-era owners named Afz̤al al-Dīn Muḥammad, Muḥammad Mahdī al-Ḥusaynī, Muḥammad ‘Alī Khān, Muḥammad Subah bin Sayyid ‘Alī al-Ardistānī, and Irshad Khān (seal dated 1112 AH [1700–01 CE]) as per their notations and seal impressions on folio 1a.

Subsequently acquired by Sir Gore Ouseley (1770–1844).

Later obtained by scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865), after whose death, London bookseller Bernard Quaritch (1819–1899) sold his oriental manuscripts to Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford (1812–1880) in 1866.

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.

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 2021 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.

Digital Images

Manchester Digital Collections (full digital facsimile).

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute


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