Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

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

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: Persian illustrated copy of Qazwini's Wonders of Creation, an important Arabic cosmography.
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
Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: The colour of the paper varies from cream through coffee to several shades of green.
Extent: 256 folios
Dimensions (leaf): 34.2 × 17.8 cm.
Dimensions (written): 27 × 12.3 cm.

Pencil foliation throughout. As the pencil numbering includes three fly-leaves at the beginning, what should be numbered folio 1 is numbered 4 etc.



Copied by Shūmā شوما


355 miniatures, which exemplify the mature Isfahan style, maintain a high standard of execution throughout. An extremely fine illuminated heading at the beginning of the text, with the central medallion left unpainted.


Contemporary binding of black morocco with fine stamped gilt medallions (flowers) and pendants (rabbits). Doublures of red leather, with medallions and pendants of gold cut-out work on blue, green and red backgrounds.


Origin: Dated 12 Dhu'l-hijja 1041 AH (1632 CE)

Provenance and Acquisition

Colophon on folio 259a (256a according to the modern pencil numbering) signed by Shamsa. At the beginning are two Persian seals with short librarians' entries: 1. Pitifāt 'Alī Khān; 2. Mu'izz al-Dawla Bahādur Khān (?), dated 1162/1749; one of the inscriptions appears to record the gift of the manuscript from the first to the second.

Formerly part of the collection of the orientalist Antoine-Isaac Silvestre de Sacy (1758-1838). A label has been affixed to the inside front cover which reads: 'M: Silvestre de Sacy, 226'. The manuscript then became part of the collection of the Persian scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803-1865). Bland’s oriental manuscripts were sold through Bernard Quaritch in 1866 to Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford.

Purchased by Enriqueta Rylands, on behalf of the John Rylands Library, in 1901 from James Ludovic Lindsay, 26th Earl of Crawford.

Record Sources

Bibliographical description based on an index created by Reza Navabpour circa 1993. Identification of provenance based on manuscript catalogue by Michael Kerney, circa 1890s.

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


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.

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

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation and The John Rylands Research Institute


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