Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 27 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: Timurid court poet and renowned Sufi ‘Abd al-Raḥman Jāmī (1414–1492) originally composed the Bahāristān (Spring Garden) in 892 AH (1487 CE). Modelled upon the Gulistān (Rose Garden) of Saʻdī, he divided it into eight chapters or 'gardens' (rawz̤ah) devoted to Sufi saints and philosophers, the topics of justice, generosity, love, and comedy, as well as a highly esteemed section on poetic literature, and the last regarding animals. Remarkably, while this finely transcribed and illuminated manuscript with lavish gold-flecked marbled paper margins appears unsigned and undated, multiple notations and twenty-five seal impressions attest to its former ownership by Mughal rulers and their family since at least the reign of the Emperor Jahāngīr (b. 1569, r. 1605–1626). What may be the earliest notation suggests that the painter Miskīn (fl. 1580–1604).
Incipit: (basmalla) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): چو مرغ امر ذی بالی ز آغاز * نه از نیروی حمد آید به پروار.
Explicit: برگ ۱۰۴ر (folio 104a): الاختتام و الصلاة و السلام علی محمد و آله البررة الکرام.
Colophon: No colophon.
Language(s): Persian

Ottokar-Maria von Schlechta-Wssehrd (1825–1894) published the earliest critical edition of the Persian text together with a German translation in 1846. The Kama Shastra Society, co-founded by Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821–1890) and Forster Fitzgerald Arbuthnot (1833–1901), published the first complete, albeit anonymous English translation by Edward Rehatsek (1819-1891) in 1877, but it was only available by subscription. Sorabji Fardunji Mulla published the first publically-available English translation in Mumbai (Bombay) in 1899.

Physical Description

Form: codex

Ivoury-coloured handmade paper inset within contemporaneous, bilaminate marbled paper (abrī) conjugate bifolia throughout for the outer margins.

Extent: 105 folios, 7 flyleaves (ff. iv + 105 + iii)
Dimensions (leaf): 236 × 116 mm.
Dimensions (written): 135 × 74 mm.

Foliation pencilled in Arabic numerals at the top-left corners or centres of a sides of the folios by the cataloguer.


Primarily triternions throughout. 17III(101)1II(105). Catchwords throughout written on the lower-left corners of the margins in a different hand.


Good condition, with moderate insect damage and occasional repairs with European marbled papers.


Written in 1 to 2 columns, with 12 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Written in a highly refined minuscule nasta‘līq hand, primarily in black ink with headers, story, and verse markers in red and blue.

  • The final right flyleaf (f. iv) to folio 1a bears many Mughal-era notations together with seal impressions.
    • Albeit undated, the earliest notation may be one that mentions the Mughal painter Miskīn (fl. 1580–1604), which suggests he received it from the brothers of a fawjdār (military commander) named Mīrzā Hāshim:

      الله اکبر. (۲) بهارستان بقطع وزیری کاغذ متن سمرقندی افشان غبار (۳) حاشیه کاغذ ابری افشان لینه بخط نسخ تعلیق عمل نام استاد (۴) نا نوشت لوح و مجدول مرصع سر تخت لاجورد و سریع نوشت (۵.۱، سطر خط کشیده) جلد کهنه ابره سختیان حلکاری در کنج [و] ترنج و کایات مطلای (۵.۲، بالای سطر خط کشیده) جلد ابره سختیان طلای سختیان سریع خط بی طلا نود اوراق (۵.۳، زیر سطر خط کشیده) این سختیان حلکاری ربع کنج و ترنج مشبک چرمی خط طلا (۶) لامیر (یا «لابن»؟) مسکین مصور بیگ مدحی(؟) از برادران میرزا هاشم فوجدار

Bookplates and pasted items:
  • Left paste-down: Bibliotheca Lindesiana with shelfmark F/5, and Bland MSS No. 37.
  • Final left flyleaf a side (f. viia): ticket of publisher and bookseller Thomas Kaye :

    ‘T. Kaye, Bookseller, Stationer, Printer & Publisher of the Liverpool Courier 42. Castle Street, Liverpool.’


Joseph Clarke describes the present binding, hence necessarily rebound before 1835. While it lacks his binder's ticket, the style closely comports with others by the London bookbinding firm of Charles Lewis (1786-1836). Sewn on four sawn-in cords, then laced into the pasteboards. Decorative front-bead endbands at head and tail worked in yellow silk thread. Bound in full crimson straight-grained morocco goatskin leather with four false bands over a hollow tube on the spine.

Elegantly tooled in both blind and gold leaf with an interlaced diaper and square on the boards interspersed with as well as the spine, which is title ‘BAHARISTAN’.

245 × 176 × 36 mm.

Twenty-six Mughal-era black seal impressions found on the final right flyleaf a side (f. iva) to folio 1a at the start of the volume, and also folios 104a to the first left flyleaf a side at the end, some legible:

Final right flyleaf a side (f. iva):
1 (Bottom-left of text): Partially legible oval seal impression, intaglio-carved in nasta‘līq script in two stacked lines, double-ruled, a former associate named Shaykh Muḥammad dated 1057 AH (1647–48 CE) . ‘العبد شيخ محمد ۱۰۵۸’ 11 × 16 mm.

2 (Bottom-left corner): Partial round seal impression, partially legible, intaglio-carved in nasta‘līq script, stacked, double-ruled, possibly of a former associate of Prince Dārā Shikūh. 25 × 23 mm.

Final right flyleaf b side (f. ivb):
3 (Bottom-right corner): Fully legible round seal impression, intaglio-carved in nasta‘līq script, in three stacked lines, double-ruled with punched quatrefoils between, of an administrator to Prince Dārā Shikūh named Muḥammad Jamīl, dated 1055 AH (1645–46 CE): ‘محمد جميل بندهٔ دارا شکوه سنه ۱۰۵۵ ’ ~26 mm. diam.


Origin: Unsigned but possibly completed in either in Safavid Iran or Mughal India before the death of the Mughal artist Miskīn (fl. 1580–1604) as per a notation on folio 1a.

Provenance and Acquisition

Subsequently acquisitioned by the royal Mughal library sometime during the reign of Jahāngīr (b. 1569, r. 1605–27), then his son Prince Khurrām, whom later ruled as the Emperor Shāh Jahān (b. 1592 r. 1628–58).

Evidently given to the latter's son, Prince Dārā Shikūh (1615–59), but then shortly before his execution, confiscated by his brother ‘Ālamgīr I (b. 1618, r. 1658–1707), whom then presented it to his sister, Rawshan-Ārā (1617–1671), and thereafter passed on to other Mughal elites.

Possibly the same volume acquired by British travel writer Henry Swinburne (1743–1803), who sold his library through Leigh, Sotheby, & Son on 10 Jan. 1803, including a manuscript described in the catalgoue as ...a very splendid and beautiful copy, 4to. N. B. It appears to have been procured from the Imperial Library at Delhi, the Seal of several Prince being affixed to it.

While unsigned, the English description of the volume on folio 1a closely compares with the hand of Sir Gore Ouseley (1770–84).

Subsequently acquired by Methodist theologian Adam Clarke (1762–1832), then sold by his son Joseph Butterworth Bulmer Clarke (d. 1855) in 1836, listed as no. 129 in his catalogue. However, this volume does not appear in subsequent sale catalogues for his collection.

Evidently acquired and then sold by Liverpool bookseller Thomas Kaye (1780–1865) ; however, the exact circumanstances remain unclear.

Subsequently obtained by scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865) after whose death, London bookseller 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.

Analysis of many notations by Iraj Afshar (1925–2011), published in his essay ‘Arz̤ dar nuskhah'hā-yi Khaṭṭī.

Manuscript description by Jake Benson in 2021 with reference to the volume in hand, and in consultation with .


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)


    I. Afshār, '‘Arz̤ dar nuskhah'hā-yi Khaṭṭī', Ma‘ārif no. 41, (1376 SH [July–Nov. 1997]). pp. 11, 14–20, figs. 1–5.
    E. G. Browne, A History of Persian Literature Vol. 3. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1920), p. 515.
    J. B. B. Clarke, A historical and descriptive catalogue of the European and Asiatic manuscripts in the library of the late Dr. Adam Clarke, F.S.A., M.R.I.A. (London: J. Murray, 1835), p. 170, no. 129.
    Jāmī, Der frühlingsgarten. Edited and translated by Ottokar-Maria von Schlechta-Wssehrd. Wien: Kaiserlich-königlichen hof- und staats-druckerei, 1846.
    Jāmī, The Behâristân (Abode of Spring) by Jâmi: A Literal Translation from the Persian. [Translated by Edward Rehatsek] Benares: Kama Shastra Society, 1887.
    Jāmī, The Behàristan-i-Jàmi, or Abode of Spring by Jàmi. Translated by Sorabji Fardunji Mulla. Bombay: Meher Printing Works, 1899.
    Jan Rypka, History of Iranian Literature. (Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1968), p. 287.
    G. M. Wickens, 'Bahārestān (1)', in Encyclopædia Iranica Vol. 3, Fasc. 5. (1988): pp. 479–480.
    John Seyller, 'The Inspection and Valuation of Manuscripts in the Imperial Mughal Library'. Artibus Asiae Vol. 57, no. 3/4 (1997): pp. 243–349.
    Leigh, Sotheby, & Son, A Catalogue of the Extensive and Very Valuable Library... of Henry Swinburne ... (London: Printed by T. Burton, 1803), p. 57 no. 1578.

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute


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