Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 251 (The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: A complete copy of Book Two of the Mas̲navī-i Ma‘navī (Spiritual Couplets) by Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī (1207–1273), the second of a six-volume set together with Persian MS 250, 252, 253, 254, and 255. While a scribe named Sirāj al-Dīn ibn Bāyāzīd Kūrahvī Rūdawlī completed other volumes in Calcutta, ‘Abd al-Karīm ibn Muḥammad Ḥasan completed this volume. 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: ‘Abd al-Karīm ibn Muḥammad Ḥasan عبد الکریم ابن محمد حسن
Incipit: (basmallah) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): مدتی این مثنوی تاخیر شد * مهلتی بایست تا خون شیر شد
Explicit: برگ ۶۱پ (folio 61b): قوم دیگر ناپذیرا ترش و خام * ناقصان سرمدی تم الکلم
Colophon: برگ ۶۱پ (folio 61b): با تمام دفتر دویم مثنوی مولوی معنوی بدستخط فقیر الحقیر بنده عبد الکریم ابن محمد حسن ساکن شاهجهان‌آباد بتاریخ هفتم شهر شعبان المعظم سنه ۴۰ جلوس والاه روز جمعه وقت بکنیم پاس روز برآمد. یا رب .
Colophon: Completed by ‘Abd al-Karīm ibn Muḥammad Ḥasan in Shahjahanabad (Old Delhi) in the 7 Sha‘bān, 40th regnal year (of the Mughal Emperor ‘Ālamgīr, hence 1108 AH, 1 Mar. 1697 CE), 'at half past one in the afternoon'.

Micheal Kerney previously identified this scribe as completing the entire set; however, he only completed both this and probably also the fourth volume (Persian MS 253), despite not explicitly signing the colophon of the latter.

Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Texblock comprised of cream-coloured paper, probably handmade in India, with 9 laid lines per cm and no discernible chain lines.
Extent: 61 folios (ff. v + 61 + v)
Dimensions (leaf): 263 × 157 mm.
Dimensions (written): 204 × 118 mm.

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


Primarily quaternions thoughout. 4IV(32)1III(38)1IV+2(57)1II(61). Catchwords written at the lower-left margin by the gutter, or lower-left corners on the b sides throughout.


In fair condition, with extensive water and insect damage with many subsequent historical repairs throughout the volume. Small cut-out on 1 likely to remove the names of former owner Sir Gore Ouseley (1770–1844), with the name of another owner, Bengal indigo merchant John Harvey Danby (d. ca. 1830) blacked out above and below the basmala on folio 1b.


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 ‘Abd al-Karīm ibn Muḥammad Ḥasan.

Additions: Inscriptions:
  • The fifth right flyleaf b side (f.vb) inscribed ‘No. 84 Vol. 2’ at top, 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 (1803-1865)) in the first volume of the set, Persian MS 250.
  • left paste-down, ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with shelfmark ‘2/G’, and ‘Bland MSS No. 471’.


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, with the one at the head largely abraded.. Rebound with very thin pasteboardsin full, tight-backed smooth goatskin leather, originally maroon-coloured but due to prolonged exposure to moisture 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. Retains the original flyleaves of thin-weight, cream-coloured, flocked paper probably handmade in , with ~8 laid lines per cm and few discernible chain lines. Comparatively bright, ivoury-coloured, medium-weight, sturdy paper, also probably handmade in , with ~8 laid lines per cm and no discernible chain lines. Paper label adhered to spine bears the Arabic letter thā (ث), with the volume number written in Persian on the right board exterior in gold ink in nasta‘līq script.

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 none of the onlays remain.

266 × 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. Endbands loose and abraded. The moisture caused the interior pasteboards to swell and delaminate internally, which forced the boards bulge, hence they now feel soft and flexible, with the left doublure separating at the fore-edge.


Origin: Shahjahanabad (Old Delhi), India; completed on 7 Sha‘bān, 40th regnal year (of the Mughal Emperor ‘Ālamgīr, hence 1108 AH, 1 Mar. 1697 CE), 'at half past one in the afternoon' by ‘Abd al-Karīm ibn Muḥammad Ḥasan.

Provenance and Acquisition

Previously owned by one Faz̤l Allāh Shāh MuḥammadFaz̤l Allāh Shāh Muḥammad as per his seal impression on folio 1a in Persian MS 250, the first volume of the set.

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., (this firm later evolved into Messrs. Robert Watson & Co., the preeminent Victorian-era subcontinental dyeworks), as per his name imprinted twice above and below the header on 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) of Persian MS 250.

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.


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


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.