Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 155 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: The Makhzan-i Afghānī (Afghan Treasury), composed by the Mughal court chronicler Khvājah Niʻmat Allāh b. Khvājah Ḥabīb Allāh Haravī (fl. 1613-1630), presents a history of Afghanistan> until the early seventeenth century. The work opens with three chapters (bāb) regarding the region's early legendary history and the Islamic conquest, followed by three books (daftar) devoted to the Lodi Sultans and famous religious and spiritual leaders, as well as a conclusion (khātimah) devoted to the genealogy of various Afghan tribes. Shaykh Niẓām al-Dīn Nawkar Ṣāḥib copied this volume on behalf of the French military figure, philanthropist, and collector Claude Martin (1735–1800) in Awadh (Oude).
Language(s): Persian
Incipit: (basmalla) بر گ ۱پ (folio 1b): حمدی که موّرخان وقایع نگار و مستخبران بدایع افکار بلسان گوهر بار بلاغت و ثار باللیل و النهارانشا نمایند...
Explicit: برگ ۲۸۵پ (folio 285b): وصلوات وسلام علی نبیه المجتبي و ورسول المصطفی اعلیه و اله افضال الصلوات و السلام علیه و سلم تسلیما کثیرا کثیرا برحمتک یا ارحم الراحمین
Colophon: برگ ۲۸۵پ (folio 285b): تمت تمام شد بخط شیخ نظام الدین نوکر صاحب عالی قدر والا همم گردون رقعت السیف والقلم جرنل مارتین صاحب بهادر در شهر لکهنو سیوم ماه ربیع الثانی سنه ۱۲۱۱ هجری مطابق پنجم اکتوبر سنه ۱۷۹۶ عیسوی تمت تمت تمام شد.
Colophon: Completed in Awadh (Oude) by Shaykh Niẓām al-Dīn Nawkar Ṣāḥib for General Claude Martin on 3 Rabī‘ II 1211 AH (3 Oct. 1796 CE).

For a full discussion of this work together with a longer redaction by the same author entitled Tārīkh-i Khān Jahānī (History of Khān Jahān) and the differences between them, with translated passages, see Elliot and Dowson.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Text block comprised of two types of Indian handmade paper, with folios 1 to 220 of thick, even, ivory-coloured sized and polished sheets, and folios 221 to 285 of comparatively thin, bright white stock.
Extent: 285 folios (ff. ii + 285 + ii).
Dimensions (leaf): 243 × 160 mm.
Dimensions (written): 183 × 94 mm.
Foliation: Foliation pencilled in Arabic numerals by the cataloguer on the upper-left corners of the a sides.


5IV(40)1II(44)1IV+1(53)21IV-1(220)7IV(IV)1II+1(283)1I(285) Catchwords on the lower left corners of the b sides throughout.


In good condition. Minor insect damage and historical repairs.


ًWritten in 1 and 2 columns with 11 to 17 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Written in nasta‘līq script in black with subheaders in red.

  • Number ‘59’ pencilled on the right flyleaf a side (f. 1a), and left pastedown.
  • Folio 1a ‘Afghan & Pathan History’ pencilled in English, with another alternate title for the work, ‘Majma‘ al-Tavārīkh-i Khān-Jahānī Lūdī’, written in nastaliq script in black.
Bookplates: The left pastedown: ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with shelfmark ‘2/E’, and ‘Bland MSS No. 377’.


Resewn upon three sawn-in cords laced into the pasteboards. Stuck-on endbands of yellow silk wrapping a cord applied to spine. Rebound in an early full rose-coloured embossed morocco-grained bookcloth (See Andrea Krupp, Bookcloth, pp. 25, 36, no. Lea1 Morocco). English endpapers watermarked Britannia with the letter H in a five-pointed star atop the letter G over the number one, dated 1830. Since this cloth matches Rylands Persian MS 30, and the endpapers date to well after Martin owned the volume, former owner Nathaniel Bland likely had it rebound.

253 × 164 × 55 mm.

Binding in good condition albeit faded on the spine.


Folio 1b:

Relief-cut stamped impression of name this manuscript's patron and former owner ‘Claude Martin’ appears above the header in red.

6 × 57 mm.


Origin: Completed by Shaykh Niẓām al-Dīn Nawkar Ṣāḥib for Claude Martin (1735–1800) in Lucknow; 3 Rabī‘ II 1211 AH (5 October 1796 CE), as indicated in both the colophon on folio 285b and his relief carved ex libris impressed in red on folio 1b.

Provenance and Acquisition

After Martin's death, sent to Calcutta [Kolkata] for sale, as part of a collection of 505 Persian manuscripts briefly referenced in the final entry of an inventory of printed books in his library sold there on 10 Mar. 1801, hence likely sent for sale before then (see Lafont). Possibly sold by Tulloh & Co., which advertised several sales, including ‘an extensive, curious and valuable Collection of Persian and Shanscrit Books’ in the Calcutta Gazette (see Hill); however, the exact date and seller await identification, and the volume's purchaser, and circumstanced by which the volume arrived in Britain remain unclear.

Subsequently acquired by Persian scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865), after whose death London antiquarian dealer 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 handlist by Michael Kerney, circa 1890s, subsequently 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 Rosie Llewellyn-Jones MBE, Royal Society for Asian Affairs.


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).


    E. G. Browne, A Catalogue of Persian Manuscripts in the Library of the University of Cambridge (Cambridge: Cambridge University press, 1896), pp. 152–153, no. LXXVII [Camb. Add. 753].
    H. M. Elliot and J. Dowson, The History of India, As Told by Its Own Historians: The Muhammadan Period, Vol. V (London: Trübner & Co., 1877), pp. 67–1115, no. XXXV.
    H. Ethé, Catalogue of Persian Manuscripts in the Library of the India Office, Vol. I (Oxford: Printed for the India Office by H. Hart, 1903), cols. 231–232, nos. 577–578 [BL IO Islamic 2649 and 2706].
    A. Halim, 'Two Aligarh Mss of the Makhzan-i-Afghani', Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, No. 5 (1941): pp. 377–383.
    Samuel Charles Hill, The Life of Claud Martin, Major-General in the Army of the Honourable East India Company Calcutta: Thacker, Spink & Co, 1901), pp. 111–113.
    Jean-Marie Lafont, 'General Claude Martin's Great Library' in The Estate of Major General Claude Martin at Lucknow: An Indian Inventory. Edited by R. Llewellyn-Jones (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2021), , 108, 198, no. 731.
    D. N. Marshall, Mughals in India: A Bibliographical Survey. Vol. 1. Manuscripts (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1962), p. 376, no. 1403, ii.
    W. H. Morley, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Historical Manuscripts in the Arabic and Persian Languages (London: John W. Parker & Son, 1854), pp. 74–75, no. LX [RAS Codrington/Reade No 72. Box 36].
    Niʻmat Allāh Haravī, History of the Afghans: Translated from the Persian of Neamet Ullah. Translated by Bernhard Dorn. London Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland, 1836.
    C. Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian manuscripts in the British Museum, Vol. I (London: British Museum, 1879), p. 212 [BL Add. 21911].
    C. A. Storey, Persian Literature: A Bio-bibliographical Survey, Vol. I (London: Luzac & Co., 1927), pp. 162, §554 (2).

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute


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