Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 246 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts

Two works excerpted from the Khamsah (Quintet) by Niẓāmī Ganjavī, completed in 1087 AH (1677–1678 CE).


Summary of Contents: The volume contains complete, albeit unillustrated, copies of both the Haft Paykar (Seven Portraits) and story of Laylī and Majnūn with occasionally variant lines. Note that the colophons indicate that when restored, a bookbinder inadvertantly reversed the order in which these two works usually appear within the Khamsah.
1. folios 1b-136a
Incipit: (basmalla) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): ای جهان دیده بود خویش از تو * هیچ بودی نبود[ه] پیش از تو
Explicit: برگ ۱۳۶پ (folio 136b): دولتت را که بر زیادت [زیارت] باد * خاتم کار بر سعادت باد
Colophon: برگ ۱۳۶پ (folio 136b): تمت تمام شد نسخهٔ هفت پیکار من تصنیف سلطان شعرا برهان الابتقار شاه نظامی گنجه‌ٔ علیه الرحمة الغفران. بتاریخ بیستم شهر ذی الحجه سنه ۱۰۸۷.
Colophon: Completed on 20 Ẕi-l-Hijjah 1087 AH (23 Feb. 1678 CE)
Language(s): Persian
2. folios 137b-244a
Incipit: (basmalla) برگ ۱پ (folio 137b): چو مرغ امر ذی بالی ز آغاز * نه از نیروی حمد آید به پرواز
Explicit: برگ ۲۴۴ر (folio 244a): خواننده ازو بر آفرین باد * و آنرا که نوشت حق معین باد
Colophon: برگ ۲۴۴ر (folio 244a): تمت تمام شد بوقت اشراق بروز جمع[ه] در ماه سنه ۱۰۸۷.
Colophon: Completed at sunrise on a Friday in the month of Shavvāl 1087 AH (Dec. 1677–Jan. 1678 CE); however the colophon omits the exact day.

This redaction contains many additional lines that do not appear in critical editions based upon the earliest texts.

Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Texblock comprised of heavily-flocked, straight-grained, tan-coloured paper, sized and polished, probably handmade in India, with ~9 laid lines per cm and no discernible chain lines. Some folios tinted in ochre hues.
Extent: 244 folios (ff. ii + 244 + ii)
Dimensions (leaf): 221 × 168 mm.
Dimensions (written): 178 × 82 mm.

Foliation marked at top-right corners of the a sides in pencilled Arabic numerals when catalogued.


Primarily quaternions throughout. (29IV(232)2III(244). Catchwords on the lower-left corners of the b-sides throughout.


In fair condition, with extensive water stains and grime throughout, and many historical repairs.


Written in 1 column to 2 columns, the latter for poetry, with 15 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Both works copied in the same readable nasta'liq hand in black.

Marginalia: Persian notes throughout much of the volume, much of it written vertically along the fore-edge, with many trimmed during rebinding.
  • First right flyleaf a side (f.ia) inscribed with the titles and ‘No. 72’.
  • The Second right flyleaf a side (f.iia) inscribed ‘No. 12’.
  • Second right flyleaf a side (f.iib) inscribed ‘The Heft Peigcar or Seven forms and the Loves of Laila v Majnūn two celebrated poems by Nizami- Persian.’.
  • Folio 1a inscribed ‘S. H. Lewin 1824’ with the number ‘191’ underneath.
Bookplates: The left paste-down: ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with shelfmark ‘2/J’, and ‘Bland MSS No. 466’.


Textblock repaired and resewn after suffering significant water and insect damage, at two unsupported stations. Edges trimmed, with only primary endbands sewn over a cord head and tail. Rebound, tight-backed in full, smooth red goatskin leather over pasteboards with internal doublures of the same goatskin leather, and flattened, cut-off headcaps at head and tail. Boards attached by means of handmade paper hinges, with the edges put down on the boards decoratively cut with zig-zags. Flyleaves of comparatively thin-weight, buff-coloured, paper, probably handmade in India, with ~8 laid lines per cm and occasional chain lines.

Boards decorated with paper onlays repeatedly stamped with the same scalloped arabesque palmette designs, (typically employed for detached pendants), four times in the centres in lieu of the usual mandorlas, and again above and below connected by a single yellow rule dividing the middles, and a double-rule of the same along the perimeters. Spine subsequently titled in gold ‘HAFT PEIKER’ and ‘LEIDLI MEJNUN’, divided by a segment of a triple-fillet usually employed for mitred corners.

222 × 162 × 32 mm.

Handle with caution. In fair condition, with extensive abrasion and staining, especially at the head of the spine. Flyleaves extensively insect damaged. White salts (spew) present on the doublures that resulted from prolonged exposure to moisture.

Accompanying Material

Note inserted with the transliterated titles between the two works, on folios 136b–137a.


Origin: 1087 AH (1676 CE)

Provenance and Acquisition

Acquired in 1824 by legal clerk Samuel Hawtayne Lewin (1795–1840) as per his inscription on folio 1a.

Subsequently acquired by Persian scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865), after whose death London antiquarian dealer 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 and his Bibliotheca Lindesiana, Hand-list of Oriental Manuscripts: Arabic, Persian, Turkish, 1898.

Manuscript description completed by Jake Benson in 2021 with reference to the volume.


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.

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute


Comment on this record

Please fill out your details.

How are we using your feedback? See our privacy policy.

See the Availability section of this record for information on viewing the item in a reading room.