Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 24 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: This early illustrated copy of Mihr va-Mushtarī (the Sun and Jupiter) by Muḥammad 'Aṣṣār Tabrīzī (d. ca. 1383) opens with a double-page frontispiece that portrays a princely hunting scene, and features five other illustrations as well. While the colophon declares completion in 10 Muḥarram 788 AH (11 Feb. 1386 Julian), probably within one of the sulatanate Greater Iran, it would appear to date the work itself, not this manuscript, which instead appears from about a century later.
Incipit: (basmala) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): بنام پادشاه عالم عشق * که نام اوست نقش خاتم عشق | ثوابت راز عشقش داغ بر جهر * بجان چنین غمش را مشتری مهر
Explicit: برگ ۲۲۸ر (folio 228a): چو دادی اوّلم ز ایمان سعادت * در آخر بر زبانم ران شهادت | نجتم انبیا دختم قرآن * که ختم کار ما بر خیر گردان.
Colophon: تم الکتاب بعون الملک الصمد و الحمد لله الاحد و الصلوة علی المصطفی خیر والد و ولد قد نقلت من نسخة قوبلها مع نسخه انتسخها المصنف بخط الشریف و قد کتب رحمة الله فی آخر الکتاب هذه العبارة فرغ من تمیق هذا الکتاب ناظمه و هو احقر عباد الله الغفار محمد بن محمد بن محمد العصار التبریزی اصلح الله شأنه ضحوة یوم العاشورأ سنه ثمان و ثمانین و سبعمایة هجریة
Colophon: The date given in the colophon, 10 Muḥarram 788 AH (11 Feb. 1386 Julian), may represent that of the work's completion, despite most sources reporting the author's death in ca. 1383. B. W. Robinson suggests the volume probably dates about a century later.
Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Medium-weight, straight-grained, externally sized and polished ivory-coloured paper, probably manufactured in Greater Iran, with ~7 laid lines per cm and few discernible chain lines.
Extent: 220 folios, 1 flyleaf (ff. + i) .
Dimensions (leaf): 228 × 121 mm.
Dimensions (written): 140 × 63 mm.

Modern pencilled Arabic numberals on the upper-left corners of the sides omit the first folio, hence under by one.


Undetermined due to tight sewing, but probably primarily quaternions throughout. Catchwords present on the lower-left corners of the b sides throughout.



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


Written in clear black nasta‘līq with blue subheaders.


The volume opens with a double-page frontispiece rendered within an illuminated border on folios 0b to 1a, in addition to five illustrations in the Turkman style.


  • Folios 0b to 1a:
    Outdoor hunt scene watched by a prince seated under an umbrella on the horizon.
    Each half measures 140 × 57 mm.
    Published: Robinson, pp. 90–91, no. 425.
  • Folios 15a:
    A visit to a hermit depicts six figures and rocks that project into the margins.
    102 × 76 mm.
    Published: Robinson, p. 22, no. 426, Colour Plate VI.
  • Folios 54b: Outdoor scene features a young prince reading, seated by a pond at right with attendants, with white, spray-painted and outlined floral scrollwork margins infilled with various painted fish, executed on dark indigo blue paper. 21b: 82 × 57 mm. Published: Robinson, p. 160, no. 569.
  • Folios 94b: Eight angels, arranged in four pairs, set against white spray-painted stencilled cloud-bands outlined in gold. Each half measures 152 × 76 mm. Published: Robinson, p. 161, no. 570.
  • Folios 134a: Outdoor landscape scene features a young nobleman seated by a pond at right with attendants offering food and wine, with a groom and horse at lower-left, set within brown spray-painted and outlined stencilled arabesques with geometric square kufic (bannā'ī, literally 'masonry') designs that feature the name ‘Alī repeated four times, in the corners. Each half measures 82 × 70 mm. Published: Robinson, p. 162, no. 571.
  • Folios 167b: Outdoor party features a young nobleman with attendants, one offering wine at right, and musicians and a dancing girl at left, with white spray-painted stencilled arabesques at top and bottom, outlined in gold, executed on dark indigo blue paper. Each half measures 89 × 76 mm.

Illumination: .

Ruling: .


Very finely decorated Safavid-era binding, possibly 17th century.

Sewn at two stations, unsupported. Edges trimmed and chevron endbands twined at head and tail. Covered in full smooth dark brown goatskin leather over pasteboards, flush-cut with the edges and originally with a flap, now missing (Type II binding per Déroche). Interior doublures lined with the same leather

Contemporary binding with flap missing and spine seemingly replaced in France in the eighteenth-century . It bears the inscription in gilt 'AMOURS DE MEHER EN LANGUE PERSIENNE' and the crest of a castle. The covers are of dark leather with sunken gilt medallions, pendants and corner-pieces embossed with floral arabesques. The doublures are similar, with one or two leaves etc. picked out in blue.

230 × 128 × 41 mm.

Handle binding with caution. The right board detached, the left board cracking. Tailband missing, sewing loose at the font, and very tight with opening to the gutter margins restricted. Boxed.


A European relief-cut monogram of the letter L surmounted by a coronet appears impressed upon folios 1a, 2b, 219a, 220b :
22 × 18 mm.


Origin: Probably completed in Greater Iran; the date of 10 Muḥarram 788 AH (11 Feb. 1386 Julian) given in the colophon appears to be that for the work's completion, not this manuscript which may date late 15th century CE.

Provenance and Acquisition

While the circumstances under which this manuscript arrived in Europe remains unclear, a subsequent, possibly French, owner acquired it from an unidentified sources and impressed a monogram with the capital letter L on four folios.

Subsequently obtained by French orientalist Antoine-Isaac Silvestre de Sacy (1758-1838).

After de Sacy's death, presumably inherited by his son Samuel Ustazade Silvestre de Sacy (d. 1879), who sold many of his father's oriental manuscripts through Parisian booksellers Romain Merlin (1793–1871) and Grangeret de la Grange, (1790-1859) on 1843 (no. 302), where an individual named 'Moore' purchased it.

Thereafter acquired by scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865) purchased it then brought it to his home at Britain.

After Bland's 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

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

Bibliographical description based on an index created by Reza Navabpour circa 1993, derived from a manuscript catalogue by Michael Kerney, circa 1890s, concisely published as Bibliotheca Lindesiana, Hand-list of Oriental Manuscripts: Arabic, Persian, Turkish, 1898.

Manuscript description by Jake Benson in 2024 with reference to the volume in hand.


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.


    H. Massé, 'ʿAṣṣār, Shams al-Dīn Muḥammad', Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed., Vol. 1 (1986), p. 720.
    Rieu, Pers. Man. II, pp. 626-27.
    Z. Safa, 'ʿAṣṣār Tabrīzī' , Vol. II, Fasc. 8 (1987), p. 803.
    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. 577–578, nos. 811–815 [Bodleian MS. Elliott 257, &c.].

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute

The Soudavar Memorial Foundation


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