Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 23 (The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: Illustrated copy of Yūsuf va Zulaykhā by Jāmī (d. 1492), a mystical love story based on the biblical tale of Joseph and Potiphar's wife.
Author: Unknown
Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Gold-sprinkled paper
Extent: 153 folios
Dimensions (leaf): 24.1 × 16.5 cm.
Dimensions (written): 15.2 × 7.6 cm.




Five small miniatures which exemplify the Safavid style in the mid-sixteenth century. While the miniatures may have been executed at Mashhad, B.W. Robinson argues that the miniatures were completed slightly too early to have received the patronage of Prince Ibrahim Mirza.

Illuminated double title-page on folios 1b and 2a in a style characteristic of the Herat and Tabriz styles of Khurasan manuscripts of the later sixteenth century. Section headings are written in gold on a background of scrollwork. Spaces in the text and around the colophon are similarly adorned.


Contemporary binding with flap, rebacked and repaired. It would appear that in the course of the repair the covers and flap were reversed to make the doublures the present outer surface and vice versa. The original outer surfaces (now doublures) are of leather, painted black and covered with very finely painted gold medallions, pendants, corner pieces and arabesque scrolls, which have then been varnished over. Small parts of this surface are missing. The original doublures (now outer surfaces) are of red leather, painted with gold floral scrolls and decorated with medallions, pendants and corner pieces of cut-out work on backgrounds of green and blue. This is framed with strips and squares of green and yellow silk let into the leather and covered with cut-out work of black and brown, some of which are missing.


Origin: Dated 957 AH (1550 CE)

Provenance and Acquisition

Colophon on folio 153a is signed by Muhammad Amin bin 'Abdallah.

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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