Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 255 (The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: A complete copy of Book Six of the Mas̲navī-i Ma‘navī (Spiritual Couplets) by Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī (1207–1273), the sixth volume of a set together with Persian MS 250, 251, 252, 253, and 254. 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: Sīrāj al-Dīn bin Sayyid Bāyāzīd Kūrahvī سراج الدین بن سید بایازید گورهوی
Incipit: (basmallah) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): مجلد ششم لدفترهای مثنوی و تبیان معنوی که مصباح ظلام و هم و شبهت و خیالت و شک و  زیبت باشد و این مصباح را با حسن حیوانی ادراک نتوان کرد.
Explicit: برگ ۴۰ر (folio 40a): در دل من آن سخن زان میمنه‌ست * رانک از در جناب دل روزنه‌ست
Colophon: برگ ۴۰ر-۴۰پ (folio 40a–40b): تمت الکتاب بعون الملک الوهاب علی یدی العبد الضعیف المحتاج الی رحمه ربه غفران خوریم الطلبا سراج الدین ابن سید بایزید کورهوی معموله پرگنه ردولی سرکار و صوبه اوده بجهته یادگاری مشفقی مکرمی منبع فیض و حمایت میان خواجه عنایت گردیده محل بادشاهزاده عالم و عالمیان بهادر شاه در عمل صوبه داری بلده کابل سمت اختتام یافت.تمت الکتاب بعون الملک الوهاب علی یدی العبد الضعیف المحتاج الی رحمه ربه غفران خویدم الطلبا سراج الدین ابن سید بایزید کورهوی معموله پرگنه ردولی سرکار و صوبه اوده بجهته یادگاری مشفقی مکرمی منبع فیض و حمایت میان خواجه عنایت گردیده محل بادشاهزاده عالم و عالمیان بهادر شاه در عمل صوبه داری بلده کابل سمت اختتام یافت. [۴۰پ] و دیم من صفر فی یوم الجمعه سنه جلوس ۴۳ حمداً الله و مصلیاً علی نبیه محمد و آله الطیبین الطاهرین رحمة الله لمن نطر فیه و لمن قراء منه ولمن دعا لکاتبه بالرحمة و الغفران و الصلوة علی نبیه محمد و اله اجمعین برحمتک یا ارحم الراحمین. قد تم کتابتي بعون الوهاب * امید که باشد همگی صدق صورت * ور سهو و خطای نشده باشد واقع * رب اغفر لي إنك انت التواب.
Colophon: Completed by Sirāj al-Dīn ibn Bāyāzīd Kūrahvī Rūdawlī, in Kabul (now in Afghanistan, but then part of the Mughal Empire) on Friday, 2 Ṣafar in the 43rd year of the Mughal Emperor ‘Ālamgīr's reign, hence 1111 AH (30 Jul. 1699 CE)

The volume opens with a brief ornate rhyming prose dedicated an unnamed ḥākim (governor) whereas the colophon explicitly identifies him as a 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). The poem itself commences in the top margin, immediately after a basmalla in red. The text of the book ends at the top of the lower margin of folio 40a, followed by the colophon, that continues to 40b.

Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Extent: 40 folios (ff. iv + 40 + iii)
Dimensions (leaf): 260 × 154 mm.
Dimensions (written): 203 × 112 mm.

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


Primarily quaternions thoughout. 1IV-1(7)4IV(40). Catchwords written at the lower-left margin by the gutter, or lower-left corners on the b sides throughout.


In fair condition, with water and insect damage, and 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 two impressions of the name of another former owner, Bengal indigo merchant John Harvey Danby (d. ca. 1830), blacked out in the header of 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, Sīrāj al-Dīn bin Sayyid Bāyāzīd Kūrahvī.


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 left board and 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 and 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 India, with ~8 laid lines per cm and few discernible chain lines. Hinges of ivoury-coloured, medium-weight, sturdy paper, also probably handmade in India, with comparatively bright, ivoury-coloured, medium-weight, sturdy paper endleaves, also probably handmade in , with ~8 laid lines per cm and no discernible chain lines, consistent with later flyleaves added to the other volumes in the set when restored. Remnants of a paper label adhered to spine, with the volume number written in Persian on the right board exterior in gold ink in nasta‘līq script.

Boards originally uniformly decorated together with the other volumes in the set, with recessed gilt paper onlays for the central scalloped mandorlas and detached pendants; however, none of them remain.

262 × 159 × 16 mm.

Handle with caution. Very tight opening, only to about 45º. In fair condition, with extensive staining after exposure to prolonged moisture, especially at the spine and tail edge. Upper grain layer abraded in areas. The moisture caused the interior pasteboards to swell and delaminate internally, and forced the boards to bulge and buckle, with the doublure of the left board separating on the fore-edge.


Origin: Completed in Kabul; Friday, 2 Ṣafar in the 42nd year of the Mughal Emperor ‘Ālamgīr's reign, hence 1109 AH (14 Aug. 1697 CE) by Sirāj al-Dīn ibn Bāyāzīd Kūrahvī Rūdawlī

Provenance and Acquisition

Previously owned by one Faz̤l Allāh Shāh Muḥammad as per his seal impression on folio in Persian MS 250, folio 1a, 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., the preeminent Victorian-era subcontinental dyeworks), as per his name imprinted at the top 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) 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, 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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