Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 182 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: A sixth incomplete volume of the Rawz̤at al-Ṣafā (Garden of Purity), a general history from the creation of the world to the time of the author. Later combined with other disparate volumes, Persian MS 179, 180, and 181, as an incomplete set.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Medium-weight, straight-grained, buff-coloured, flocked paper probably handmade in India, sized and highly polished with ~9 laid lines per cm and no discernible chain lines.
Extent: 554 folios (ff. iv + 554 + v)
Dimensions (leaf): 265 × 170 mm.
Dimensions (written): 195 × 108 mm.
Foliation: Original Hindu-Arabic foliation trimmed off when rebound.
Foliation: Foliated in pencilled Arabic numerals on the upper-left corners of the a sides when catalogued.


Undetermined, but likely quaternions throughout. Catchwords throughout on the lower-left corners of the b sides.


Hand with caution. Text block in fair condition, with extensive insect damage, water and adhesive stains, and historical repairs throughout. Beware of many fold-outs.


Written in 1 columns with 18 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


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

Bookplates: Left pastedown: ‘Archibald Swinton, Esq.’ and ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ bookplates, the latter with the shelf mark ‘1/A’, and ‘Bland MSS No. 403’


Evidently rebound as a set for former owner Archibald Swinton after his return to Britain in 1766. Curiously, while this volume bears Swinton's arms blocked in gold on skiver leather in the top spine panel, it lacks his bookplate, as found in Persian MS 180 and 181, and it closely resembles Persian MS 802, formerly owned by George Augustus Frederick Fitzclarence, 1st Earl of Munster (1794–1842). Abbreviated resewing on five cords, laced into pasteboard, edges trimmed and marbled with a loose serpentine pattern drawn over a stone design in pale yellow, black, and red. Decorative front-bead decorative endbands sewn in red and yellow silk threads. Covered in full, dark green calfskin leather, tight-backed and tight-jointed, with predominantly dark green and pink 'Antique Spot' patterned marbled made endpapers. Intial and final two flyleaves of cross-grained, cream-coloured laid paper, likely made in Britain, with ~10 laid lines per cm and 26 mm between chain lines. Other earlier flyleaves of straight-grained,

Spine fully gilt, with a slightly smaller version of Swinton's arms blocked on gold on skiver leather labels applied to the top panel, which measures 18 × 17 mm. . Gilt floriate chain borders on the board perimeters, with floral sprig corners, and board edges tooled with a leaf-and-dart roll.

284 × 190 × 63 mm.

Handle with caution. Exterior and board edges abraded, joints cracked, headcap missing, tailcap frayed, and endbands broken. Deteriorated green silk ribbon bookmark between 288b to 289a. Boxed.


Swinton's arms blocked in gold on a skiver leather label adhered to the upper panel of the spine, features a boar tethered to an oak tree:

23 × 20 mm.


Origin: Probably India; undated, but probably mid-18th century.

Not dated

Provenance and Acquisition

Apparently acquired 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 commissioned the rebinding of rebinding of other disparate volumes together with this one as a set. While this volume lacks his Anglo-Persian seal impression and bookplate, it bears his arms blocked in gold on the uppermost spine panel, consistent with the others.

After his death, James Christie Jr (1773–1831) sold Swinton's collection in London on 6 June 1810, where antiquarian dealer Thomas Gwennap (d. 1850) purchased it for £1-11s-6d.

Probably purchased from Gwennap 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 catalogue by Michael Kerney, circa 1890s and his Bibliotheca Lindesiana, Hand-list of Oriental Manuscripts: Arabic, Persian, Turkish, 1898.

Manuscript description by Jake Benson in 2021 with reference to the volume, and in consultation with Christie's archivist Lynda McLeod, regarding Swinton's sale.


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.


Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute


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