Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 236 (The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: This nearly complete copy of the Mas̲navī-i Ma‘navī (Spiritual Couplets) by Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī (1207–1273) contains all six books, but without added prefaces, for a total of 30,265 couplets. While unsigned and undated, illuminated page openings indicate the start of each of book, with the centres of all pages masked off and finely sprayed with gold ink (ghubār) surrounded by gold marginal ruling. Extensive repairs and blank pages between each book indicates the scribe likely originally completed six separate volumes that a later owner combined together in one binding.
Author and Contributor: Sulṭān Valad, 1226–1312
Incipit: (beginning) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): بشنو از نی چون حکایت میکند * و ز جدأیها شکایت میکند.
Explicit: برگ ۳۸۱ر (folio 381a): با گرد ورا آر و آید نوا * کردتش باشد همیشه ز آن هوا.
Colophon: برگ ۳۸۱ر (folio 381a): تمت الکتاب بعون ملک الوهاب حضرت مثنوی مولوی رومی علیه [ا]لرحمه.
Colophon: Colophons unsigned and undated in all six books.

The text extends beyond the usual ending with additional verses posthumously appended by Rūmī's son Sulṭān Valad.

Language(s): Persian
Title: Book One
Title: دفتر الاوّل
Title: Daftar-i Avvāl
Title: Book Two
Title: دفتر دوّم
Title: Daftar-i Duvvūm
Title: Book Three
Title: دفتر سیوم
Title: Daftar-i Sīyūm
Title: Book Four
Title: دفتر چهادم
Title: Daftar-i Chahārum
Title: Book Five
Title: دفتر پنجم
Title: Daftar-i Panjum
Title: Book Six
Title: دفتر شیشم
Title: Daftar-i Shīshum

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Written on a combination of straight and cross-grained, thin-weight, ivoury-coloured, paper, externally sized, and polished, likely handmade in India, with ~1 mm. between laid lines and few discirnible chain lines.
Extent: 381 folios (ff. ii + 381 + ii).
Dimensions (leaf): 250 × 162 mm.
Dimensions (written): 180 × 92 mm.

Foliated in pencilled Arabic numerals on the upper-left corners of the a sides when catalogued. Former owner Adam Clarke (ca. 1762–1832) evidently miscounted the number as ‘756 pages’ on folio 381b, but it actually contains 5 more.


Primarily quaternions throughout, with occasional binions and triternions indicating they probably originally comprised separate volumes. Some folios tipped together in the gutters when repaired and rebound. 8IV(64)1IV+1(74)3IV(114)1II(119)6IV(268)1IV+1(277)1IV(185)1IV+1(294)1IV+1(304)1III(310)3IV-1(342)1II(346)2IV(370)1II(374)1IV-1(381)Catchwords present at the lower-left corners of the b sides.


Handle with caution. In fair condition, with extensive cut-outs and infills on the margins repairs to inner quires in the gutters. Extensive mould/damp damage at the end throughout.


Written in 1 to 4 columns with 19 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Primarily written in black nasta‘līq script with subheaders in red by Ni‘mat Khān, who possibly also wrote some marginal notes outlined in the same manner as the marginal ruling.


The start of each book on folios 1b, 65b, 120b, 195b, 246b, bear illuminated headers.

The centres of all pages finely sprayed with gold (ghubār) with the surrounding margins masked off.

Marginal and columnar ruling thoughout in gold outlined in thin black single and double lines, with outer margin outlined in thick black.

Additions: Inscriptions:
  • The first right flyleaf a side (f. ia) bears a price of ‘£7-17-6’ on the upper-right corner, then ‘Nº 7’ probably in the hand of former owner Adam Clarke, together with a Persian and English inscriptions underneath also in his hand:

    ‘ سی هزار دو صد و شست و پنج بیت است. در این کتاب مثنوی جلالالدین رومي ’

    (‘There are three thousand two hundred and sixty five verses in this book of the Mas̱navī of Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī.’)

    ‘30265 Couplets.’

  • Folio1a bears a description of the volume, signed underneath, by former owner Jospeh Warton, dated 1780, and also signed by Adam Clarke underneath, dated 1807.
  • Folio 381a bears an obliterated ownership note below the colophon; however, another indicating someone purchased it on ‘18 Rajab’, albeit without a year, remains, written upside-down at lower-right:

    In Persian: ‘ روز هیجده ماه رجب امر حساب اتباع شد. ’

  • Folio 381b also probably inscribed by Adam Clarke on separate pieces of paper, then the margins double-ruled in red:

    At top-right, in red ink that matched the double-ruled lines: ‘Pages 756’

    In Persian: ‘ سی هزار دو صد و شست و پنج بیت است. ’

    (‘There are three thousand two hundred and sixty five verses.’)

    Underneath: ‘30265 Beits.’

  • Various numbers appear on the first left flyleaf a side (f. iiia), that pertain to various sales (the last one, later crossed out, corresponds to J.B.B. Clarke's catalogue entry pasted at the top-left corner):

    ‘DD 130’


    Nº 120

Bookplates and Pasted Items:
  • The first right flyleaf a side (f. ia) bears the pasted entry from J.B.B. Clarke's catalogue, and ‘Bland MSS No. 27’.
  • The left pastedown: ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ bookplates, with the shelf mark ‘1/A’.


Unsupported resewing at two stations. Twined chevron endbands in indigo silk and silver-wrapped threads, the latter now tarnished. Covered in full black goatskin leather over pastebaords, with the board interiors lined with dark maroon red goatskin leather doublures.

Boards bears onlays of entral mandorlas, detached pendants, and cornerpieces blocked in gold. Single vertical rules lines connect the central onlays, while double-lines connect the corners and surround the perimeters, all in gold, with similar single and double rulings on the interior doublures.

× × mm.

Handle with caution. The goatskin leather covers extensively deteriorated and friable, with the exterior onlay decoration delaminating and breaking, and joints cracking. Headband missing and tailband broken. Boxed.


Folio 381a, to the left of the colophon, bears an obliterated, partial rectangular seal impression, single ruled.

Accompanying Material

A glassine envelope contains a separated cornerpiece gilt paper onlay retreived from within the text when catalogued.


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

Provenance and Acquisition

Formerly owned by English theologian and literary critic Rev. Jospeh Warton (1722–1800) in 1780, as per his signed description of the volume on folio 1a.

Later acquired in 1806 by Methodist theologian Rev. Adam Clarke (ca. 1762–1832), as per his inscription on folio 1a. After his death his son Joseph Butterworth Bulmer Clarke, (ca. 1797–1854) published a catalogue of his manuscript library (no. 120) in 1835. The next year on 20 June 1836, Clarke's son auctioned his father's collection through the London firm of Sotheby & Son where bookseller Thomas Thorpe (1791–1851) purchased it for £4-5-0 (p. 80, no. 566)

Presumably purchased from Thorpe by scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803-1865), after whose death London antiquarian dealer Bernard Quaritch (1819–1899) sold his library 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 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 2022 with reference to the volume in hand.


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.


    J. B. B. Clarke, A historical and descriptive catalogue of the European and Asiatic manuscripts in the library of the late Dr. Adam Clarke, F.S.A., M.R.I.A. (London: J. Murrary, 1835), pp. 167–168, no. 120.
    Sotheby and Son, Catalogue of the Highly Interesting and Valuable Collection of European and Asiatic Manuscripts of the late Dr. Adam Clarke, F.S.A., M.R.I.A. (London: [Printed by Compton and Richie], 1836), p. 21, no. 148.

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation and The John Rylands Research Institute


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