Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 285 (The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: The Masnavī-yi Miṣbāḥ (Couplets of the Light) also known as the Miṣbāḥ al-Rashīdī (Lamp of Rashīdī) named for its author Rashīd al-Dīn Muḥammad Bīdvāzī (fl. late-15th century), who was from the village of Bidavaz near Mashhad. A disciple of Shaykh ‘Abdallāh Barzishābādī (1387–1467) of the Kubravīyah Sufi order, Rashīdī completed this poem in 852 AH (1488–89 CE). It is modelled on the Masnavī-yi Ma‘navī (Spiritual Couplets) of Jalāl al-Dīn Rumī (1207–1273) and features three sections on the themes of love, dissolution, and longing. This manuscript was likely completed in the mid-18th century and features lavish illumination including a pair of roundels followed by full opening pages.
Incipit: برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): ای بنامت کارها را افتتاح * نیست بی امر تو در امری فلاح
Explicit: برگ ۱۹۶پ (folio 196b): سوز و درد آمد قبول درگهت * میگشاید از نیاز ما رهت
Colophon: No colophon.
Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Polished ivory-coloured indigenously-manufactured handmade paper, with faint laid lines.
Extent: 196 folios (i+196+i)
Dimensions (leaf): 205 × 130 mm.
Dimensions (written): 136 × 67 mm.
Foliation: Foliation pencilled in Arabic numerals the upper-left corners of the a sides by the cataloguer.


In fair condition. Previously water damaged. The first 14 folios are repaired in the gutters, while others are remargined. The cross-grained paper and tight binding restricts the opening, which stresses the marginal ruling, especially in the gutters, some of which are breaking.


Written in two columns with 14 lines per page. Ruled with a miṣṭārah.


Text copied in black ink in nasta’liq. At least 2 hands are identifiable.


Folio 1b: Illuminated headpiece. Marginal ruling surrounds the text, in green and blue on either side of gold outlined with thin black lines, while narrow vertical double-ruling divides the columns, in gold also outlined in black

  • Catalogue Entry: Adhered on the right doublure is an entry from an unidentified sale catalogue: ‘185 Mesbeh Rashidi- The Garden of Rashidi. A very beautiful MS. : it is written in double columns in fine Taalik, a line of gold being drawn around each column, and round the page a triple border of green, gold, and blue; the paper is even and finely polished, and there is an ornamented frontispiece. 8vo, 394 pp. 2l.2s.’
  • Inscription: on right flyleaf verso ‘No 7- Misbah Rashidi- The Garden of Rashidi’.
  • Bookplates: left paste-down, ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with shelfmark ‘2/J’, and Left flyleaf b side ‘Bland MSS No. 540’.


Bound in medium brown sheepskin leather, with later spine and hemmed board edges in dark red goatskin leather. The original binding may have once had a flap, but it is now repaired without it (hence now a Type III binding as per Déroche). Originally stamped in blind with a central medallion with floral scrollwork and detached pendants with a lotus design, and corners with the same, all stamped on recessed thin leather onlays, all now highly abraded. The spine panels are paletted in gold with a circle-and-dart design with a fine rope tool on either side, and prominent lyres in the centres (the same is on Persian MS 109). Titled ‘'Misbah Reshidi'’ on spine with handle-letters in Latin script. Internal doublures of red goatskin, probably original. 206 × 130 × 29 mm.


  • Folios 1a and 62a:

    Multiple impressions of an illegible octagonal seal intaglio engraved possibly with the name of ‘Alī in black ink.

    26 × 26 mm.
  • Folios 95a and 98a:

    Two impressions— the latter partially— of an rectangular seal in black ink intaglio engraved with the name of former owner Muḥammad Kāẓim dated 1164 AH (1750–51 CE).

    8 × 12 mm.

Accompanying Material

Many marginalia inscribed in a poor hand.


Origin: Probably Iran; undated, but before 1164 AH (1750–51 CE) as per the dated seal impressions of Muḥammad Kāẓim.

Provenance and Acquisition

Formerly owned by an individual possibly named ‘Alī, as per seal impressions on folios 1a and 62a, then by one Muḥammad Kāẓim as per his seal impressed on folios 95a and 98a dated 1164 AH (1750–51 CE).

Subsequently acquired by scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865), after whose death his oriental manuscripts were sold through Bernard Quaritch (1819–1899) in 1866 to Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford (1812–1880).

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.

Revised and expanded by James White in 2018 and Jake Benson in 2020 with reference to the manuscript.


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, the John Rylands Research Institute, and the Soudavar Foundation



Comment on this record

Please fill out your details.

How are we using your feedback? See our privacy policy.