Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 206 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: A complete copy of the Miz̤mār-i Dānish (Hippodrome of Wisdom), here alternatively entitled Farasnāmah (Treatise on Horses), which Niẓām al-Dīn Aḥmad (fl. ca. 1656–1661), son of famed philosopher Muḥammad bin Ibrahīm Ṣadr al-Dīn Shīrāzī (1571–1640), known as Mullā Ṣadrā, compiled and redacted from earlier sources between 1656 and 1661 at the request of the Safavid ruler ‘Abbās II (b. 1633 r. 1642–1666). Comprised of three marḥalah (stages) containing nine chapters each, it discusses horse riding etiquette, offers practical advice on their feeding and care, as well as veterinary and amuletic prescriptions for various ailments and supplicatory prayers culled from Prophetic and Imamic traditions. This volume contains additional passages at the end concerning various remedies and prayers apparently not found in other early manuscripts.
Incipit: برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): سپاس بیقیاس خداوند جهان را که ابلق لیل و نهار چندانکه در خیابان ازل و ابد در نوردد، از ساحت عرشش [عزتش] نشان نیابد...
Explicit: برگ ۶۹ر (folio 69a): بسم الله علیك وعلی راکبك یمیناً وشمالاً و تحتاً [و]فوقاً وخلفاً من بین ایدیهم سدافاً غشناهم فهم لا یبصیرون.
Colophon: No colophon.

Many variant copies of this text survive. This manuscript extends beyond the critical edition of Nādir Ḥāʼirī, which stops at ‘انا له لحافظون’ (folio 63b, line 6), with several additional remedies and prayers likely copied from another work on the same subject. In his handlist, Michael Kerney misidentified the author of this work as Muḥammad ʻAlī Ḥazīn (ca. 1692– ca. 1766), who authored another similar text; however, the incipit comports with British Library, Add. which bears an attribution to Niẓām al-Dīn Aḥmad (fl. ca. 1656–1661) in the header (see Rieu catalogue). Several scholars and two published editions also confusingly attribute authorship to Niẓām al-Dīn Aḥmad Gīlānī (fl. 17th century), or conflate that author with the son of Mullā Ṣadrā due to their similar names. However, a manuscript held in the Āyāt Allāh Mar‘ashī Najafī Library, Qom (no. 13461), apparently copied by the author's nephew and Mullā Ṣadrā's grandson, Muḥammad ‘Alam al-Hudà, in which he declares that he transcribed it directly from his uncle's original text.

Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Thin ivory-coloured paper, probably handmade in India. Laid lines ~10mm per cm, no discernible chain lines. Many fold-outs along the fore-edge.
Extent: 72 folios (ff. ii + 72).
Dimensions (leaf): 232 × 149–175 mm.
Dimensions (written): 178 × 90 mm.
Foliation: Hindu-Arabic numeral inscribed on the upper-right corners of the a sides from folios 2a to 69a.


Quaternions throughout. 9IV(v). Catchwords on the lower-left corners of the b sides throughout.


Handle with caution. In fair condition with extensive staining and many fold-outs along the fore-edge.


Written in 1 column with 14 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Written in a combination of nasta‘līq script, with Arabic passages copied in naskh, predominantly in black, with subheadings and underlining in red. The same hand may have also copied some of the marginalia present from another volume.

Marginalia: Various notes written in the margins throughout, some possibly copied by the scribe, as well as other hands, some trimmed off when rebound. Inscriptions:
  • The first left flyleaf a side (f. ia) Arabic numeral ‘Nº 21’ followed by the transliterated title ‘Furs Námah’ in sepia, with ‘or book of horseman=ship’ pencilled underneath.
  • The second left flyleaf a side (f. iia) bears the alternate title ‘فرس ‌نامه’ written in black nasta‘līq.
Bookplates: Left pastedown: ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with shelfmark ‘1/I’, ‘Bland MSS No. 437’.


Apparently rebound in a hybrid British-Indian style, likely in the early 19th century. Sewn at two stations on flat red goatskin leather thongs, likely the same as used to cover the volume. A single bifolium of comparatively heavy paper added to the front only. Note that the final flyleaves bear misṭarah hand guide impressions, hence consititute part of the textblock. Folios 1 to 9 and 49 to 69 and several others trimmed and coloured yellow, excepting those folded along the fore-edge. Spine lined with cloth, but no endbands. Covered in full maroon goatskin leather, tight-backed, over thin pasteboards, without squares or a flap (type III binding per Déroche). Cloth lining and thong ends adhered to the first and last flyleaves. Comparatively heavy handmade paper doublures line the interiors of the boards, with the excess width put down as hinges on the first and last flyleaves to attach the boards and cover the cloth spine lining and thongs, although some of the latter protrude beyond the hinges.

Boards double-ruled in yellow along the perimeters. Spine titled ‘FERAS NAMEH’ in gold in the European manner, possibly added afterwards in Britain.

235 × 156 × 17 mm.

Handle with caution. Binding in fair condition with breaks in the joints at head and tail, and abrasion along the edges, headcaps, and interior joints.


Origin: Probably completed in India; undated, but likely late 18th to early 19th century.

Provenance and Acquisition

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

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 and his 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 Prof. Sajjad Rizvi, University of Exeter, and Dr. Hunter Bandy, École Pratique des Hautes Études-section des sciences religieuses and Laboratoire d'études sur les monothéismes (LEM) concerning the identity of the author.


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).


    M. Dirāyatī and M. Dirāyatī, Fihristgān: Nuskhahʹhā-yi Khaṭṭī-i Īrān (Fankhā) (Union catalogue of Iran manuscripts), Vol. 29 (Tehran: Sāzmān-i Asnād va Kitābkhānah-i Millī-i Jumhūrī-i Islāmī-i Īrān, 1392 SH [2013–14 CE]), pp. 860–861 [Mar‘ashī no. 13461].
    Aḥmad Gīlānī, Miz̤mār-i dānish, Farasnāmah: risālah-ay dar bāb-i asb az sadah-ʼi yāzdahum. Edited by Nādir Ḥāʼirī, with an introduction by ʻĀrif Naushāhī Tehran: Markaz-i Nashr-i Dānishgāhī, 1375 SH [1996–97 CE].
    Aḥmad Gīlānī, Miz̤mār-i dānish, yā, Farasnāmah. Edited by Riz̤ā Ashrafʹzādah, Muḥammad Ḥusayn Khusravān Tehran: Markaz-i Nashr-i Dānishgāhī, 1375 S. H. [1996–97 CE].
    ‘A. Naushāhī, Fihrist-i Nuskhahā-yi Khaṭṭi-yi Fārsi-yi Pākistān (Fihrist-i 8000 nuskha-yi khaṭṭi-yi kitābkhānahā-yi shakhṣī va dawlatī), Vol. 2 (Tehran: Mīrās̱-i Maktūb, 1398 SH [2017 CE]), pp. 1042–1043.
    ʿA. Solṭānī Gerdfarāmarzī, 'Asb iii. In Islamic Times', Encyclopædia Iranica Vol. 2, Fasc. 7 (1987): pp. 731-736.
    C. Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian manuscripts in the British Museum, Vol. II (London: British Museum, 1881), pp. 482b–483a. [British Library Add. 7716 and Add. 8989].
    E. Sachau and H. Ethé, Catalogue of the Persian, Turkish, Hindûstani, and Pushtû manuscripts in the Bodleian Library Vol I. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1889), cols. 1077–1078 nos. 1867–1868 [Bodl. Elliott 132 and Fraser 172].
    C. A. Storey, Persian Literature: A Bio-bibliographical Survey, Vol. II Pt. 3 (London: Luzac & Co., 1977), pp. 397–398, no. 670.

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute


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