Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 3 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: A Persian translation of the ʻAjā’ib al-Makhlūqāt va Gharāʼib al-Mawjūdāt (Wonders of Creation and Oddities of Existence), Qazvīnī's famous medieval Arabic cosmography. Completed by Shūmā on 12 Ẕū-al-Ḥijjah 1041 AH (30 Jun. 1632 CE) on various tinted papers, the volume also features 355 Isfahan style illustrations.
Author and Translator: Anonymous
Title: ʻAjāyib al-Makhlūqāt
Title: عجايب المخلوقات
Title: عجايب المخلوقات و غرائب الموجودات
Title: ʻAjā’ib al-Makhlūqāt va Gharāʼib al-Mawjūdāt
Title: ʻAjā’ib al-Makhlūqāt wa Gharāʼib al-Mawjūdāt
Incipit: برگ ۴پ (folio 4b): العظمه لک والکبریا لجلالک اللهم یا قایم الذات ومفیض الخیرات واجب الوجود وواهب العقول وفاطر السموات والارض مبدی الحرکة والزمان و مبدع الخیر والمکان...
Explicit: برگ ۲۵۶ر (folio 256a): و آنرا آن قوم مبارک شمردندی واین کتاب حشم شد بعون الله الملک الوهاب والله اعلم بالصواب.
Colophon: برگ ۲۵۶ر (folio 256a): تحریرا فی دوازدهم شهر ذالحجه الحرام سنه ۱۰۴۱ من الهجریه النبویه صلوات الله علیه و اله و سلم. کتبه الفقیر الخقیر المذنب شما غفر له و ستر عیوبه..
Colophon: Probably completed in Isfahan by Shūmā on 12 Ẕū-al-Ḥijjah 1041 AH (30 Jun. 1632 CE).

For other copies of this work held in the Rylands, see Persian MS 1, 2, 4, 37, and 374.

Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Text block comprised of a combination of sized and polished, straight and cross-grained paper of different weights and tints, including natural ivory, cream, coffee, straw, peach, pale green, and turquoise blue probably handmade in Greater Iran.
Extent: 256 folios
Dimensions (leaf): 342 × 178 mm.
Dimensions (written): 270 × 123 mm.
Foliation: Pencil Arabic numerals on the upper-left corners of the a sides throughout, inclusive of the first three right flyleaves, with the first folio proper numbered 4, etc.


Undetermined. Catchwords throughout most of the lower-left corners of the b sides.


In fair condition, with moderate water and insect damage and historical repairs throughout.


Written in 1 column, with 21 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Written in clear black nasta‘līq with subheaders in red by Shūmā.


355 illustrations exemplify the high standard of execution of the mature 17th-century Isfahan style throughout. For a complete description of the depictions, see both Robinson and also the digital surrogate.

A delicately illuminated headpiece appears at beginning of the text on folio 4b, with the central medallion left unpainted. 129 × 123 mm.

Inscriptions: Folio 4a bears several notations:
  • Top: a partially legible note by Iltifāt ‘Alī Khān an ambiguous, partially legible note mentions ‘...year one, in Bombay’ and the name of one Yār ‘Alī Khān
    ‘فی تاریخ ⟨نه معلوم⟩ شهر ربیع الاول سنه احد دار بمبای یار علیخان اون(؟)’
    fī tārīkh-i ⟨obliterated⟩ shahr rabī‘ al-Avvāl sanah Aḥad Dār-i Bumbāī Yār ‘Alī Khān avan(?)’.
  • Underneath the seal of Iltifāt ‘Alī Khān, he declares that he purchased the volume for 250 rupees as written in Indic sīyāq numerals: ‘مالکه التفات علیخان قیمت ۲۵۰’ ‘Mālikuhu Iltifāt ‘Alīkhān qaymat 250 [rupees]’.
  • Bottom left: An unsigned notation dated 14 Sha‘bān 1131 AH (2 Jul. 1719 CE).
    ‘تاریخ چهار دهم (۱۴) شهر شعبان سنه احد شاهجهان ثانی در بلده لکهنو عرض دیده شد یوم سیه شنبه’ ‘Tārīkh-i Chahār dahum (14) shahr Sha‘bān sanah aḥad-i Shāhjahān-i Sānī dar baladuhu Lakhnaw ‘Arż dīdah shud yawm-i Sih Shanbah’.
  • Upper left: Note by Mu’izz al-Dawlah Bahādur Sharīf dated 23 Rabī‘ II 1168 AH (26 Jan. 1755 CE), written adjecent to his seal records receipt of the volume as a gift from Iltifāt ‘Alī Khān: ‘کتاب عجایب المخلوقات التفات علیخان به بندهٔ درگاه تواضع نموده‌اند تاریخ بیست سیم ربیع الثانی سنه احد عالمگیر ثانی ’ ‘Kitāb-i ‘Ajāyib al-Makhlūqāt-i Itlifāt ‘Alīkhān bih bandah-'i dargāh tavāżu‘ namūdahand, tārīkh-i bīst (u) siyum rabī‘ al-sānī sanah aḥad-i ‘Ālamgīr Sānī (AH 23 Rabī‘ II 1168/January 26 1755 CE).
  • Right doublure: ‘M: Silvestre de Sacy’ with the number ‘226’
  • Left doublure: ‘Bland MSS Nº. 13’.
  • The final right flyleaf b side (f. iiib): ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with pencilled shelfmark ‘F/3’.


Binding of shagreen leather, probably contemporary with the manuscript.

The final two left flyleaves (ff. ii–iii) of ivory-coloured paper, sized and quickly polished, with ~8 lines per cm probably added when previously restored. Subsequently resewn on four recessed cords, with 20th-c. peach-tinted machine-made laid endpapers added and the spine rebacked, tight-backed, green goatskin leather.

Boards decorated with finely gold blocked central scalloped medallions medallions (flowers) and pendants (rabbits). Internal doublures of red goatskin leather, inlaid with painted blue, green, and red recessed central medallions and detached pendants overlaid with gilt leather filigree inset flush with the surface.

342 × 196 × 45 mm.

Hand binding with cuation. In fair but sound condition; with exterior decoration abraded and losses to the interior filigree. Boxed.

Folio 1a bears six black seal impressions, four obliterated and two legible, the latter both rectangular and intaglio-carved in nasta‘līq script:

1: A seal impression in two stacked lines, single-ruled, of Chief Palace Eunuch to the Begums of Awadh in Faizabad, Iltifāt ‘Alī Khān, :

11 × 15 mm. Regarding this former owner, see Fayz̤ Muḥammd Kātib Hazārah and Santha.

2: A seal impression in three stacked lines, single-ruled, of Mu’izz al-Dawlah Bahādur Sharīf dated 1126 AH (1714–15 CE):

12 × 16 mm.


Origin: Probably completed by Shūmā in Isfahan; 12 Ẕū-al-Ḥijjah 1041 AH (30 Jun. 1632 CE).

Provenance and Acquisition

Anonymous inscription dated 14 Sha‘ban year one of Shāh Jahān II (21 June 1719 CE) in Lucknow.

Purchased an an unknown time for 250 rupees by Chief Eunuch of the Royal Begums of Awadh in Faizabad, who would later in his career serve Treasurer to Tīmūr Shāh Durrānī (b. ca. 1742, r. 1772–1793), Iltifāt ‘Alī Khān (fl. 18th c.).

Adjacent to his seal impression, Mu’izz al-Dawlah Bahādur Sharīf that he received the volume as a gift from Iltifāt ‘Alī Khān (fl. 18th c.) on 23 Rabī‘ II, first regnal year of  ‘Alamgīr II [1167 AH] (6 Feb. 1755 CE).

Subsequently acquired by orientalist Antoine-Isaac Silvestre de Sacy (1758-1838). A label affixed to the inside front cover reads: 'M: Silvestre de Sacy, 226' as well as his incription on his bookplate on folio 1a.

After de Sacy's death, presumably inherited by his son Samuel Ustazade Silvestre de Sacy (d. 1879), who sold many of his father's oriental manuscripts through Parisian booksellers Romain Merlin (1793–1871) and Grangeret de la Grange, (1790-1859) on 1843 (no. 284), where an individual named 'Moore' purchased it.

Thereafter acquired 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.

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.

Codicological description based on B.W. Robinson, Persian Paintings in the John Rylands Library: A Descriptive Catalogue (London, 1980).

Manuscript description by Jake Benson in 2022 with reference to the volume in hand, and in consultation with Dr. Vivek Gupta, Jesus College, University of Cambridge.


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.

A digital facsimile is available via the University of Manchester LibraryImage Collections

Custodial History

Exhibited in Gilded Word and Radiant Image, sponsored by the Altajir Trust.

Digital Images

Manchester Digital Collections (full digital facsimile).


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Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute


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