Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 240 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: Author Şem‘ī Şemullah (d. ca. 1602) composed this Ottoman Turkish prose interpretive commentary on the Persian Būstān (Fragrant Orchard), of Saʻdī. Completed by Ibrahīm bin Velī on Friday, end of Muḥarram 994 AH (17 Jan 1586 CE), it would appear to be one of the earliest-known extant copies to survive. British linguist Sir William Jones (1746–1794) possibly compied the volume while a student.
Author and Bibliographic antecedent: Saʻdī سعدى
Incipit: (basmalla) صفحه‌ی ۴ (Page 4): حمد بی حد و ثناءِ بی عد اول صانع ذو الجلاله که بوستان کون مکان انوار اثاریله روشن و ریاض قلوب انسانی انوار معارفیله گلشن ایلدی وصلات صلات بی نهایه، وتحف تحیت بی غایه اول سید بلند بی پایه یه که صاحب قاب قوسین اوادانی و صدر نشین بادگاه سبحان الذی اسری در و بر اولاد و اصحاب گزین که مقتدای راه یقینلردر و بعد بو بندهٔ کمینهٔ قلیل البضاعة شمعیء شمع فروز گبخ قناعه بر گون اصحاب با صفا و یاران باوفا ایله، بوستان شیخ سعدی شیرازی‌دن، قدس الله سره العزیزدن، مصاحبت ایدرکن اثناءِ مکالمه ده سخن پرداز بلند پرواز، یاراندن برى لطف ایله خطاب ایدوب ایتدی بو کتاب شریف اگر لسان ترکی ایله شرح و تقریر ومُشکل‌لرى بیان وتحریر السونه غایت ایله خوب و معقول و نهایت مرتبه اصابتده بقبول اولوردی…
Explicit: صفحه‌ی ۷۳۴ (Page 734): ...نومید و محروم ایله.
Colophon: صفحه‌ی ۷۳۴ (Page 734): و الصلوة علی رسوله اشرف الانام، و صجبه الکرام، واله العظام، قد وقع الاختتام فی شهر محرم الحرام، فی بوم الجمعه اشرف الایام علی ید اضعف الانام، کثیر الجرم و الاثام ابراهیم بن ولی علیهما رحمة الله العلام فی تاریخ سنه اربع و تسعین و تسعمایه من الهجره النبویه علیه السلام
Colophon: Allegedly completed by ‘Ibrahīm bin Velī’ at the Friday, end of Muḥarram 994 AH (17 Jan 1586 CE).
Language(s): Persian and Ottoman Turkish

Jonathan Lawrence, 'Building a Library' pp. 11–12 suggests that Jones copied this volume himself under a pseudonym ‘Ibrahīm Sarvalad’. The enimgatic reading seems more likely ‘bin Valī’ given the dual form of the prayer that follows.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Extent: 734 pages [367 folios], 5 flyleaves (ff. iii + 367 + ii).
Dimensions (leaf):
Dimensions (written):
Foliation: Paginated in Arabic numerals added to the upper corners throughout, inclusive of the initial leaves bearing the table of contents.


Undetermined. Catchwords throughout most of the lower-left corners of the b sides.


Text in fair but stable consdition, with the initial pages worn, stained, and repaired.


Written in 1 column with 19 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Written in clear black angular naskh with red markings and subheaders.

Bookplates: Left pastedown: ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with pencilled shelfmark ‘2/K’, and ‘Bland MSS No. 461’, with the name and number crossed out and ‘Persian’ and ‘240’ written aside.


Probably bound in Britain in the 18th century.

Sewn on five cord supports laced into pasteboards. Edges trimmed and endbands sewn in yellow and red silk threads at head and tail. Covered in full brown calkfskin leather.


Origin: Colophon claims completion by Ibrahīm bin Velī Friday, end of Muḥarram 994 AH (17 Jan 1586 CE); however, Sir William Jones (1746–1794) possibly completed it while attending University College, Oxford between 1764 to 1773.

Provenance and Acquisition

After Jones' death, his wife Lady Anna Maria Jones (1748–1829) inherited the volume, which after her death, the London firm of R. H. Evans (1778–1857) sold on 20 May 1831 (lot 432*), to bookseller John George Cochrane (1781–1852), who likely acted as an agent on behalf of Chancery Court Clerk and Royal Asiatic Society member Samuel Hawtayne Lewin (1795–1840), for whom he evidently also obtained other ex-Jones volumes (e.g. Rylands Persian MS 187 and 340; see Lawrence, 'Building a Library', pp. 11 n42, 12 n48, 70, Appendix 3).

After Lewin's death, his family evidently sold his manuscripts, largely then obtained 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 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 2023 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.


    Mr. [R. H.] Evans, Catalogue of the Library of the Late Sir William Jones, Judge of the Supreme Court of Bengal, and President of the Asiatic Society : with the Books Added Subsequently to His Death, by His Widow, Lady Jones... London: Mr. Evans, 1831) p. 17, no. 432*.
    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.
    Ş. Öztürk, 'Şem‘î', TDV İslâm Ansiklopedisi, Vol. 38 (2010): pp. 505–506.
    C. Rieu, Catalogue of the Turkish manuscripts in the British Museum (London: British Museum, 1888), pp. 156–157 [British Library Harl 5485/II].
    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. 550–551, no. 745 [Bodleian MS. Laud Or. 69].

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute

The Persian Heritage Foundation


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