Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 249 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: An abridged selection of poems from the Dīvān by the influential Timurid-era poet Amīr Shāhī Sabzavārī (d. 1453). Probably completed in late 15th to early 16th-century Iran, the volume bears delicate spray-painted stencilled margins and headers throughout.
Incipit: برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): یا رب بسوز سینۀ رندان باک باز
Explicit: برگ ۱۰۲پ (folio 102b): سخن تا چند گویم پیچ در پیچ * ترا من دوست میدارم دیگر هیچ
Language(s): Persian
Colophon: No colophon

Michael Kerney notes that in comparison to most versions, this volume lacks roughly half the usual contents. The incipit matches Bodleian MS. Selden superius 98; see Sachau and Ethé.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Various coloured and stencilled paper probably manufactured in Iran.
Extent: 103 folios, 4 flyleaves (ff. ii + 103 + ii).
Dimensions (leaf): 171 × 96 mm.
Dimensions (written): 102 × 55 mm.
Foliation: Foliated in pencilled Arabic numerals on the upper left corners by the cataloguer.


Handle with caution. In poor condition. Extensive insect damage throughout. Folios 18, 35, 42, 57, 62, 74–75, and 94–95 spattered with corrosive verdigris (copper acetate) that severely weakened and embrittled the paper, with overly-rigid historical repairs causing further stress and damage. Rigidly-tipped endpapers stress the gutter margins of the first and final folios.


Written in 1 column, with 8 lines. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.



Spray-painted stencilled designs throughout, including foliate arabesque headings and triangles adjacent to oblique lines, as well as decorative margins— especially of central quire double-page bifolia— with ducks, doves, deer, and cloud bands. Other margins masked and the central text areas finely sprayed in in pink and red, or vice-versa. Marginal ruling in gold, outlined in black.

Folios 18, 35, 42, 57, 62, 74–75, and 94–95 spattered with corrosive verdigris (copper acetate), now severely degraded.

Headings and added verses on folios 59a and 86b subsequently overpainted in red.

  • Marginalia on folios 40b, 63a, and 80b.
  • right paste-down top, ‘Diwan Shahi’
  • Also inscribed on the right paste-down, unsigned, but very likely in the hand of Sir Gore Ouseley: ‘A collection of amatorial Poems by Shahi, a persian Poet. There is a Turkish commentary upon these poems among the Laudian MSS in the Bodleian Library of Oxford’ along with ‘No. 55’ at the bottom (however, this does not appear to comport to the volume that he describes in his Biographical Notices).
  • A pencilled note in another minuscule hand written between the lines of the above: ‘quoted by De Sacy in his notes to the Pandnameh of Attar, 307, 309.’
  • Folio 103a inscribed with lines by Qāsim Anvār (1356–1433) in shikastah script.
  • Folio 103b bears an unidentified couplet written vertically in nasta‘līq script.
Bookplates: Left paste-down, ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with shelfmark ‘F/9’, and ‘Bland MSS No. 469.’


Covered in full, polished black, very fine-grained probably calfskin leather, over thin pasteboard with fore-edge and envelope flap (hence type II binding per Déroche, with flap), with minimal insect damage. Repairs to the head and tail edges and fore-edge of the right board in thinned black goatskin leather, with heavier patches applied to the head and tail of the spine. Thick, bone-coloured European wove endpapers. Envelope flap interior lined with the same goatskin leatherused for exterior repairs.

Boards stamped with central mandorlas with floriate arabesque scrollwork and a smaller medallion featuring a lotus design upon the envelope flap exterior. Once repaired, a binder titled the spine at the head in gold with handle letters ‘Diwan Shahi M.S.’ Further decorated with thin and thick blind fillet lines on the boards, with centring marks adjacent to the blocked impressions, and vertical blind fillet lines on the fore-edge flap.

172 × 105 × 18 mm.

handle with caution. In fair condition. The binding separates from the text block.


Impressed on folio small, circular, partially-legible namesake seal intaglio-carved in nasta‘līq script in two stacked lines in the centre, impressed in black ink bearing a pious Arabic formula that invokes the family of the Prophet, which indicates the name of former owner or associate Muḥammad Muṣṭafá:

‘(?)آل محمد مصطفی جمعی’

13 × 15 mm.


Origin: Probably completed in Iran; , in the late 15th to 16th century CE.

Provenance and Acquisition

Impressed with a namesake seal of a former owner or associate named Muḥammad Muṣṭafá

While unsigned, an inscription on right paste-down appears to comport with the hand of Sir Gore Ouseley (1770–1844).

Subsequently acquired by scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865), after whose death London antiquarian bookseller Bernard Quaritch (1819–1899) sold his oriental manuscripts to 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. Identification of provenance based on manuscript catalogue by Michael Kerney, circa 1890s.

Manuscript description completed by Jake Benson in 2021 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.

Digital Images

Manchester Digital Collections (full digital facsimile)


    Amīr Shāhī Sabzavārī, Dīvan-i Amīr Shāhī-i Sabzavārī ʼaz Shuʻarā-yi Buzurq-i Sadah-i Nuhum-i Hijrī. Edited by Ḥamīdiyān Saʻīd. Tehran: Intishārāt-i Ibn Sīnā, 1348 SA (1969 CE).
    E. G. Browne, A Catalogue of Persian Manuscripts in the Library of the University of Cambridge (Cambridge: Cambridge University press, 1896), p. 92, nos. 556–557 [Camb. Or. 188l and King's Pote 161].
    G. Ouseley, Biographical notices of Persian poets; with critical and explanatory remarks... (London: Oriental Translation Fund, 1846), pp. 139–142.
    C. Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian manuscripts in the British Museum, Vol. II (London: British Museum, 1879), p. 640 [British Library Add. 23612].
    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. 601–602, nos. 780–783 [Bodl. Ouseley 122, Elliot 57 and 121, and Thurston 15].

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The Soudavar Memorial Foundation

John Rylands Research Institute



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