Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 263 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: This complete copy of the Dīvān of Ḥāfiẓ (ca. 1315–1390) contains variant ghazal lyric poems but no quatrains and compositions typically found in other copies. Written primarily in a bold clear hand, the margins feature many notes by former owner Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865) who evidently extensively studied it. Unisgned and undated, the use of British-made paper watermarked dated 1808 provides terminus post quem for completion of the volume, probably in the Indian subcontinent.
Incipit: (basmala) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): اَلا یا اَیُّهَا السّاقی اَدِرْ کَأسَاً و ناوِلْها * که عشق آسان نمود اوّل ولی افتاد مشکل‌ها
Explicit: برگ ۳۶۳پ (folio 363b): بیادگار نوشتم خطی بعد از من * بدین وسیله عزیز آن کند از من(؟) | هر آنکه نام من از راه نیکوی سرد * همیشه در دو جهان نام او به نیکی باد.
Colophon: No colophon.
Language(s): Persian

One of ten copies of this work held in the Rylands, for others see Persian MS 14, 34, 50, 262, 288, 563, 842, 945, 946, and 1001–1003 (3 vols). While J. Lawrence p. 70, Appendix 3, notes that Sir William Jones formerly owned a copy of this work sold after his widow's death, which the catalogue entry describes as bound in russia leather, which he suggests may be this volume. However, given the dated watermarks and completly different binding styles, it appears to that Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865) obtained it from another source.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Textblock of medium-weight, straight-grained, ivory-coloured paper handmade in Britain with ~19 laid lines per cm and 26 mm between chain lines, bearing large watermarks of Seated Britannia within an oval surmounted by a crown dated 1808: 129 × 77 mm.
Possibly countermarked with a cursive monogram ‘GR’: 42 × 45 mm.
Extent: 224 folios, 7 flyleaves (ff. iv + 224 + iii).
Dimensions (leaf): 306 × 186 mm.
Dimensions (written): 250 × 131 mm.
Foliation: Hindu-Arabic page numbers appear inconsistently on the first three pages, then every twenty pages, often with single digits.
Foliation: Pencilled Arabic numerals inconsistently added to the upper-left corners of the a sides every ten folios starting on folio 1Aa hence under by one, but followed for this record.


Undetermined, but probably primarily quaternions throughout. Catchwords on the lower-left corners of the b sides throughout.


Text in good condition.


Written in 1 to 2 columns with 13 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide for both the central text and surrounding margins.


Written in clear black nasta‘līq with red in the initial basmala.


Headpiece: Folio 1a bears a scalloped dome above a decorative band of red quatrefoils set against foilate scrollwork. 62 × 129 mm.

Ruling: Central text margins, veritcal column dividers, and horizontal breaks all ruled in double red lines throughout.

Marginalia: Notes and marks written in the margins, primarily in the hand of former owner Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865), sometimes referencing Hammer-Purgstall's edition, as well as occasional notes in an unidentified black nasta‘līq hand. Inscriptions:
  • The right pastedown and first right flyleaf b side also bears notes in the hand of former owner Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865).
  • The left pastedown bears an erased note, still partly legible that suggests an unidentified prior British owner acquired manuscript on ‘Dec. 9 1819’.
Bookplates: Left paste-down: ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with pencilled shelf mark ‘2/D’, and ‘Bland MSS No. 482’, with the name and number crossed out and ‘Persian’ and ‘262’ written aside.


Probably bound in Britain.

Endpapers of British-made paper with ~10 laid lines per cm and 26 mm. between laid lines, watermarked with an heart-shaped VEIC (East India Company) insignia, dated 1808:
128 × 58 mm.
Counter marked: ‘S. Wise & Patch’, of Stacey Wise (1783–1842) in partnership with Christopher Patch (fl. 19th c.) who then operated the Padsole Mill in Maidstone, Kent.
17 × 170 mm.

Resewn on five recessed cord supports laced into pasteboards. Edges trimmed, with decorative front-bead endbands sewn in yellow and while silk threads at head and tail. Covered in full medium brown goat or sheepskin leather.

Boards and spine decorated with "tree-calf" style marbling on the exterior after covering. Spine panels tooled with large meanders, with double-fillet, single rope lines, dotted palette designs, and a large open rope line at the tail, together with central motifs of a crown and crossed swords, as well as a red skiver sheepskin leather label titled ‘HAFIZ’, all in gold. Board edges tooled with thick solid and thin broken diagonal lines, and headcaps with perpendicular single fiullet lines, also all in gold.

316 × 201 × 46 mm.

Binding in good condition, with wear to the original boards, and significant surface abrasion to the repair leather.

Accompanying Material

Two sheets of paper, one folded, inserted between the right pastedown and first right flyleaf b side bears notes in the hand of former owner Nathaniel Bland.


Origin: Probably completed in the Indian subcontinent; undated but circa 1808 CE.

Provenance and Acquisition

While the circumstances under which this volume arrive in Britain remain unclear, an unidentified prior owner apparently acquired the volume on Dec. 9 1819 as per a partly erased note on the left pastedown

Thereafter obatined by scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865) for his library at Randalls Park, Leatherhead.

After Bland's death, London bookseller Bernard Quaritch (1819–1899) sold his oriental manuscripts to Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford (1812–1880) in June, 1866, paid in two instalments of £450 and £400, and then moved to Bibliotheca Lindesiana at Haigh Hall, Wigan.

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, Manchester.

Record Sources

Bibliographical description based on an index created by Reza Navabpour circa 1993, derived from a manuscript catalogue by Michael Kerney, circa 1890s, concisely published as Bibliotheca Lindesiana, Hand-list of Oriental Manuscripts: Arabic, Persian, Turkish, 1898.

Manuscript description by Jake Benson in 2023 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.


    Ian Dye, 'The Wise Family: Inept or Unlucky Papermakers?', The Quarterly: The Journal of the British Association of Paper Historians, No. 54 (2005): pp. 5, 7.
    C. H. de Fouchécour, 'Ḥāfiẓ', Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE, (2018)
    Ḥāfiẓ, The Dīvān Translated by Col. W. H. Clarke, 2 Vols. Calcutta: Government of India Central Printing Office, 1891.
    D. N. Marshall, Mughals in India: A Bibliographical Survey. Vol. 1. Manuscripts (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1962), p. 168, no. 561.
    G. Ouseley, Biographical Notices of Persian Poets; with Critical and Explanatory Remarks... (London: Oriental Translation Fund, 1846), pp. 23–42, no. 2.
    C. Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian manuscripts in the British Museum, Vol. II (London: British Museum, 1881), pp. 627–632 [British Library Add. 7759, &c].
    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. 578–592, nos. 815–853 [Bodleian MS Ouseley 148, &c.].
    A. H. Shorter, Paper Mills and Paper Makers in England 1495-1800 (Hilversum: Paper Publications Society, 1957), p. 63, Ref. 31.
    Tawfīq Subḥānī, 'Kitāb'hā-yi khaṭṭī-i Fārsī fihrist nashudah dar Kitābkhānah Jān Rāylāndz, Manchistir' Majallah-'i Dānishkadah-i Adabiyāt va ‘Ulūm-i Insānī n.s., Vol. 1, Nos. 2-3 (1372 SH [1993 CE]): p. 165, no. 4. [Rylands Persian MS 965]
    E. Yarsharter et al, 'Hafez', Encyclopædia Iranica, Vol. XI, Fasc. 5 (2002), pp. 461–507.

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute

The Persian Heritage Foundation


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