Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 219 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: The author of this valuable holograph copy of this Dīvān, Mīrzā Zayn al-Dīn Khān (fl. mid-17th century), pen-named 'ʿIshq', presented this volume to the Governor-General of Bengal Sir John Macpherson (1745–1821). The poet details how he travelled extensively and worked in various locations throughout the subcontinent during his lifetime. He also unusually indicates the metres, where and when he composed many poems, and also highlights intertextual connections with the works of other poets.
Title: Dīvān
Title: دیوان
Incipit: برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): قصیده در تتبع مولانا احمد ژنده فیل جامی موانقی و خواجه شمس الدین محمد حافظ شیرازی شمس الدین محمد حافظ شیرازی
Explicit: برگ ۶۹۶ر (folio 696a): بعنایت بنده نوازی چاره ساز بی انباز دوازده تقطع شجره آخرم
Colophon: No colophon, but the author dates a passage 1199 AH (1784–85 CE) on folio 646a, line 2.
Language(s): Persian

The author specificies locations for his compositions, such as as Jalandhar, Punjab under the patronage of Aḥmad Shāh Durrānī (b. 1723, r. 1747–1772) (folio 588b), as well as Lucknow (335b), Murshidabad, Bengal (344a), Calcutta [Kolkata], folio 348b), and Shāhjahānābād [Delhi], folio 360b), where he participated in public poetry (mushāʿira) recitals. While Michael Kerney confused him with another poet, Mubtalā (also pennamed "ʿIshq"); James White correctly identified a composition dated 1144 AH/1731 CE folio 161b) that proves Zayn al-Dīn's authorship. While the Samuel Sotheby's on 1824 catalogue entry only mentions the poet's gift of the volume to the ‘Governor General’, it seems that the 1829 catalogue of bookseller John Cochran (fl. ca. 1826–1844) first misidentifies him as Hastings rather than Macpherson, a mistake reiterated by another unidentified bookseller's catalogue entry pasted on the right doublure. Jonathan Lawrence also confirms that the note inscribed on folio 1a as the hand of Sir William Jones.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Written on a mixture of several different papers:
  • A thick, slightly polished laid stock, probably handmade in the Indian subcontinent.
  • A comparatively thin, lightly polished laid, also probably handmade in the Indian subcontinent.
  • Several externally sized and polished, European-made watermarked laid papers:
    • Folios 388 to 424 watermarked with the abbreviations ‘G. R.’ (George Rex) above a garland and surmounted by a crown set within an oval
    • Other folios watermarked ‘G. R.’ (George Rex) underneath a shield bearing a powder horn emblem, surmounted by a crown and countermarked with the manufacturer's name ‘C. Taylor’, manufactured by Clement Taylor Jr. who owned and operated papermills in Upper Tovil and Old Mill, Hollingbourne, Kent.
    • Further leaves bear the abbreviation ‘G.M.T.’, possibly manufactured in Genoa, Italy.
Extent: 704 folios, 8 flyleaves (ff. viii + 704).
Dimensions (leaf): 290 × 205 mm.
Dimensions (written): 196 × 120 mm.

Foliation marked at the top-left of the a sides in pencilled Arabic numerals, which include the the final nine flyleaves. However, they omit folios 146, 399, 611, and duplicate 153 and 240, hence under by one.


In fair condition, with some water damage in the margins.


Written in 1 to 2 columns, with 12 to 16 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Written in black nasta’līq, with some headings and poetic metres marked in red and violet, all in the hand of the poet.

Additions: Inscriptions:
  • The first right flyleaf (f. ia) marked with the inverted number ‘41’ and possible shelf mark ‘K/5’ on the a side, while the b side bears the numbers ‘218’, and ‘80’.
  • Folio 1a bears a note in the hand of Sir William Jones, that declares how the poet presented the volume to the ‘Governor General’, on May 21, 1785, hence Sir John Macpherson (1745–1821) and not Warren Hastings as prior catalogues claimed.
  • Folio 705b also bears a possible shelf mark ‘K/5’.
Bookplates and Catalogue Entry:
  • Unidentified catalogue entry adhered to the right doublure numbered ‘207’ with the name of the poet written in Persian followed by a description that misattributes former ownership to Warren Hastings (1732–1818):

    ‘Poems of Mirza Zayn oddin Khan ; well written in Taalik, on thin and slightly polished silk paper. A vert thick 4to, 1390 pp. 5l. 15s. 6d. Presented by him to the Governor-General (Warren Hastings). This circumstance is mentioned in a note on the fly-leaf at the beginning of the book, in the handwriting of Sir. W. Jones.’

  • The left doublure bears the ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ bookplate with shelfmark ‘1/C’, and ‘Bland MSS No. 440’.


Sewn on three cord supports, with the ends adhered to the first and last flyleaves, then covered by strips of paper. Edges trimmed then twined chevron endbands worked in yellow and black silk threads at head and tail. Covered in full red goatskin leather over pasteboards with a flap (type II binding per Déroche). Interior doublures lined with the same leather.

Boards bear paper onlays central mandorlas, detched pendants, corners, and cartouches all blocked in silver leaf. Ruled in bright yellow, except for the medallion and cartouches on the envelope and fore-egde flaps .

295 × 210 × 110 mm.

Handle with caution. Binding in fair condition, with the exterior grain layer delaminating and abrading, with extensive staining on the interior doublures.


Origin: Completed by the author Mīrzā Zayn al-Dīn Khān in the Indian subcontinent; after 1199 AH (1784–85 CE) based upon a dated note in his hand on folio 646a.

Provenance and Acquisition

According to an unsigned inscription on 1a, the author the volume to the ‘Governor-General’ whom on that date must be Sir John Macpherson (1745–1821)

Afterwards obtained by Sir William Jones (1746–1794) since the inscription comports with his hand.

Sold by the London firm of Samuel Sotheby (1771–1842) on 5 Jul. 1824, to bookseller John Cochran (fl. ca. 1826–1844) for £3 4 shillings.

Cochran lists the volume for for £6 6 shillings in his 1829 catalogue, then omits it a later one published 1837, indicating that he sold it before then. Since a corrected and expanded entry appears within the volume, another unidentified bookseller apparently purchased and resold it.

Subsequently acquired 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 then concisely published as Bibliotheca Lindesiana, Hand-list of Oriental Manuscripts: Arabic, Persian, Turkish, 1898.

Revised and expanded by James White in 2018 with reference to the manuscript.

Further amended and enhanced by Jake Benson in 2021, also with reference to the volume, and in consultation with Dr. Jonathan Lawrence, University of Oxford.


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)


    J. Cochran, A Catalogue of Manuscripts in Different Languages, ...to Which Is Added a Small Collection of Manuscripts in the Oriental Languages... (London: Boston and Palmer, 1829), p. 130, no. 488.
    J. Lawrence, 'Building a Library: The Arabic and Persian Manuscript Collection of Sir William Jones', Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. 31, No. 1 (Jan. 2021): pp. 1–70.
    Mr. [Samuel] Sotheby, A Catalogue of a Very Choice Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Books in the Persian, Hindostani, Mahratta, Sanscrit, Afghan, Tamul, and Canara Dialects, in Fine Condition. Which Will Be Sold by Auction, by Mr. Sotheby, at His House, No. 3, Wellington Street, Strand, on Monday, July the 5th. 1824. To Be Viewed, and Catalogues Had at the Place of Sale. (London: J. Compton, printer, Middle Street, Cloth Fair, 1824), p. 11, no. 157.
    J. White, 'On the Road: The Life and Verse of Mir Zeyn al-Din ʿEshq, a Forgotten Eighteenth-Century Poet', Iranian Studies, Vol. 53, Nos. 5–6 (2019): pp. 789–820.

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation, the John Rylands Research, and the Soudavar Foundation



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