Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 250 (The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: An incomplete copy of Book One of the Mas̲navī-i Ma‘navī (Spiritual Couplets) by Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī (1207–1273), the first of a six-volume set together with Persian MS 251, 252, 253, 254, and 255. Since the set bears dedications to Prince Muḥammad Mu‘aẓẓam Bahādur Shāh, son of the Mughal Emperor ‘Ālamgīr I, who later succeeded him as Shāh ‘Ālam Bahādur I (r. 1707–1712), it may be commissioned by him.
Scribe: Sirāj al-Dīn ibn Sayyid Bayāzīd Kūrahvī Rūdawlī سراج الدین ابن سید بایازید گورهوی رودولی
Incipit: (basmala) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): بشنو از نی چون حکایت میکند * و ز جدأیها شکایت میکند
Explicit: برگ ۶۲ر (folio 62a): با گرد ورا آر و آید نوا * کردتش باشد همیشه ز آن هوا
Colophon: برگ ۶۲ر (folio 62a): تمت دفتر اوّل مثنوی مولوی معنوی حضرت مولانا جلال الدین رومی قدس سره العزیز بعون الواجهی الفیاض و له الحمد ازلاً و ابداً و الصدقه علی خیر الوری ظاهراً و باطناً و علی الیه و صحبه الطیبین الطاهرین صاحب و مالکه آب گوهر بینش و آب جوهر آفرینش تکیه‌گاه مستمدان خواجه عنایت گو کروره نگار گرفت اقتدار ماهر شاهزاده فلک جاه محمد معظم بهادر شاه بخط خوریم الطالبا خاکبار نقرا سراج الدین کورهوی معموله نگر پرگنه رودولی سرکار و صوبه اوده بمقام کلکته عرف قطبایان (؟) بتاریخ یازدهم شهر جمادی الاولی سنه ۳۸ هنگامی که لشکر ظفرای حضرت ظل سجادریزه(؟) میدانست و...
Colophon: Completed by Sirāj al-Dīn ibn Sayyid Bayāzīd Kūrahvī Rūdawlī in Calcutta in the 11 Jumādà I, 38th regnal year (of the Mughal Emperor ‘Ālamgīr, hence 1106 AH, 28 Dec. 1694 CE), and dedicated to Prince Muḥammad Mu‘aẓẓam, son of the Mughal Emperor ‘Ālamgīr I, who later succeeded him as Shāh ‘Ālam Bahādur I (r. 1707–1712)).

Micheal Kerney previously misidentified ‘Abd al-Karīm ibn Muḥammad Ḥasan, who completed Books 2 and 4 (Persian MS 251 and 254) as the copyist of the entire set.

Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Texblock comprised of cream-coloured paper mixed with folios tinted a golden hue, probably handmade in India, with 9 laid lines per cm and no discernible chain lines.
Extent: 62 folios (ff. v + 62 + iv)
Dimensions (leaf): 265 × 158 mm.
Dimensions (written): 206 × 110 mm.

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


Collation altered when rebound, with the first gathering disordered, but originally primarily quaternions thoughout. 6IV(56)1III(62). Catchwords written at the lower-left margin by the gutter on the b sides throughout.


In fair to poor condition with extensive insect damage, historical repairs, especially at the start of the volume. Large cut-out on 1 likely to remove the names of former owners Sir Gore Ouseley (1770–1844) and Bengal indigo merchant John Harvey Danby (d. ca. 1830). Folios missing between folios 1–2 and 6–7.


Written in 1 to 2 columns, in a two-part format starting with 19 lines in the centre then proceeding to the margin.


Written primarily in nasta‘līq script in black, with subheaders in red, by Sirāj al-Dīn ibn Bayāzīd Kūrahvī Rūdawlī.

Colophon on f. 62 a written in shikastah by the same scribe.



  • The fifth right flyleaf b side (f.vb) inscribed ‘No. 84 Vol. 1’ at top, followed by ‘The celebrated Poem composed by Molovi Jelal-uddin Rumi emphatically styled "Masnavi" or "the Poem".’ most probably in the hand of Sir Gore Ouseley (1770–1844), albeit with his signature evidently cut out by a subsequent owner, that nevertheless matches his inscriptions in other manuscripts, and further confirmed a pencilled notation in another hand (probably subsequent owner Nathaniel Bland) that identifies it as such underneath.
  • The upper right cover bears an Indian raqam notation indicates a price of 60 Rupees for the entire set.
  • Left paste-down: ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with shelfmark ‘2/G’, and ‘Bland MSS No. 470’.


Textblock repaired and resewn after suffering significant water and insect damage, at two unsupported stations. Edges trimmed and coloured yellow. Twined chevron endbands worked at head and tail in silver and possibly indigo silk threads. Rebound with very thin pasteboardsin full, tight-backed smooth goatskin leather. Originally maroon-coloured, due to prolonged exposure to moisture, the exterior now appears a mottled medium-brown, but the original hue remains evident on the turn-ins. Internal doublures of the same goatskin leather, with the excess width put down as hinges attached to the first and last flyleaves, with a strip of paper adhered over top to disguise the join. Earlier flyleaves of thin-weight, cream-coloured, heavily flocked handmade paper, probably manufactured in India, with ~8 laid lines per cm and few discernible chain lines. Comparatively bright, ivoury-coloured, medium-weight, sturdy paper, also probably handmade in India, with ~8 laid lines per cm and no discernible chain lines.

Boards uniformly decorated together with the other volumes as a set, with recessed gilt paper onlays for the central scalloped mandorlas and detached pendants, but only the latter remains on the left board. Two single gold ruled lines drawing vertically and horizontally across the centres of both boards, with a wide rule with single lines on either side surrounding the perimeters, also in gold, with the wider one repeatedly stamped with insular dots.

264 × 161 × 19 mm.

Handle with caution. In fair condition, with extensive staining, after exposure to prolonged moisture, especially at the spine and tail edge. Upper grain layer delaminated in areas. Insect damage to the upper headcap left the endband exposed the endband. The moisture caused the interior pasteboards to swell and delaminate internally, which resulted in the boards bulging, hence they now feel soft and flexible, with the left doublure separating at the fore-edge.


Folios 1a and 8b bears an oval seal impression, intaglio-carved in nasta‘līq script, in two lines, with the name of a probable former owner Faz̤l Allāh Shāh Muḥammad, with what may be a regnal year 6 underneath.


Origin: Calcutta (Kolkata), India; completed by Sirāj al-Dīn ibn Bayāzīd Kūrahvī Rūdawlī on 11 Jumādà I 38th regnal year [of ‘Alamgīr, 1106 AH] (28 Dec. 1694 CE).

Provenance and Acquisition

Previously owned by one Faz̤l Allāh Shāh Muḥammad as per his seal impression on folio 1a.

Probably acquired in India, by indigo merchant Jonathan Harvey Danby (1767–1830), of Honiton, Devon, who constructed a large factory in Shikarpur, Nadia District in what is now West Bengal in circa 1790 to 1795, (this firm later evolved into Messrs. Robert Watson & Co., the preeminent Victorian-era subcontinental dyeworks), as per his name imprinted above the header of folio 1b, albeit blacked out by a later owner.

Later obtained by Sir Gore Ouseley (1770–1844) as per an unsigned inscription identifying his hand on folio the fifth right flyleaf b side (f. vb).

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 by Jake Benson in 2021 with reference to the volume, in consultation with Prof Mahmood Alam (English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad) regarding the colophon and scribe.


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.

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation and The John Rylands Research Institute


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