Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 20 (The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: Illustrated copy of Yūsuf va Zulaykhā by Jāmī, a mystical love story based on the biblical tale of Joseph and Potiphar's wife.
Author: Unknown
Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Extent: 176 folios
Dimensions (leaf): 22.2 × 13.3 cm.
Dimensions (written): 13.3 × 5.7 cm.




Five small miniatures which exemplify the Shiraz style at the start of the sixteenth century.

Small illuminated heading of unusual design and colour on folio 1b, as well as section headings in blue and gold on plain background.


Contemporary red leather binding with flap (rebacked and repaired) with sunk relief gilt panels on both the back and the front, depicting a dragon, phoenix, hares, birds and beasts in a landscape with fish and ducks swimming in a stream at the base. Doublures of red leather gilt with medallions, pendants and corner-pieces of black cut-out work on blue ground.


Origin: Shiraz, Iran; Dated 924AH (1518 CE)

Provenance and Acquisition

Colophon on folio 176a states that the copy was made at the holy tomb (asitāna) of Hazrat Mawlana Husam al-Din Ibrahim at Shiraz. No scribe's name is given.

Part of library of Antoine Isaac, Baron Silvestre de Sacy (1758-1838), French orientalist, which was sold in three public auctions during the 1840s. The manuscript then became part of the collection of the Persian scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803-1865). Bland’s oriental manuscripts were sold through Bernard Quaritch in 1866 to Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford.

Purchased by Enriqueta Rylands, on behalf of the John Rylands Library, in 1901 from James Ludovic Lindsay, 26th Earl of Crawford.

Record Sources

Bibliographical description based on an index created by Reza Navabpour circa 1993. Identification of provenance based on manuscript catalogue by Michael Kerney, circa 1890s.

Codicological description based on B.W. Robinson, Persian Paintings in the John Rylands Library: A Descriptive Catalogue (London, 1980).


The manuscript is available for consultation by any accredited reader, see Becoming a Reader for details. Please contact uml.special-collections@manchester.ac.uk for further information on the availability of this manuscript.

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation and The John Rylands Research Institute


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