Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 30 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: Mūshnāmah (Book of the Mouse) or Mūsh va Gurbah (Mouse and Cat), a mock-epic attributed to ‘Ubayd Zākānī (d. ca. 1370). A mock-epic, attributed to ʻUbayd Zākānī, it features a satirical fable concerning a cruel and hypocritical tyrant, symbolically depicted as an evil cat, often associated with the founder of the Muzzafarid Dynasty (1314–1393) Mubāriz al-Dīn Muḥammad (r. 1314–1358), who repeatedly torments a community of virtuous mice. In the tale, the tyrant is symbolically represented as an evil cat that torments a community of virtuous mice. While this finely transcribed, and whimsically illustrated manuscript lacks a colophon, the style suggests that the commercial atelier (muṣavvirkhānah) of painter Faqīr Chand (ca. 1790–1865), or his son Shīvā Lāl (1817–1887), known as Shāhī Muṣavvir (Royal Painter) illustrated it.
Artist: Faqīr Chand (ca. 1790–1865)
Incipit: (basmalla) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): ای خردمند عاقل ودانا * قصۀ موش وگربه برخوانا
Explicit: برگ ۱۱پ (folio 11b): هست این قصۀ عجیب وغریب * یادگار عبید زاکانا
Colophon: No colophon, but former owner John Bardoe Elliott's inscription on the first right flyleaf b side (f. ib) in 1846 both establishes terminus ante quem and suggests the locus of production for the volume's completion.
Language(s): Persian

Translated into English numerous times, including by Mas'ūd-i Farzād, Omar Pound, and most recently by Hasan Javadi in an unpublished whimsical metrical version.

Colophon: No colophon

Physical Description

Form: codex

Thin, unwatermarked, lightly blue-tinted letter-paper of likely European manufacture, bearing an unclear embossed stamp impression, probably that of the mill or stationer at the upper-left of all folios.

Flyleaves of British-made Spanish wave patterned marbled endpapers.

Extent: 14 folios (ii + 18 + ii)
Dimensions (leaf): 266 × 173 mm.
Dimensions (written): 167 × 81 mm.
Foliation: Foliated by the cataloguer with pencil, in Arabic numerals on the upper left of each a side.


1IV(8)1Catchwords throughout.


The volume is in excellent condition.


2 columns. 13 lines per page. Unruled


Transcribed by an unknown scribe in nasta‘līq script in black, in a heavier hand for the majority of the text, with headings in red.


Illustrations: Fourteen illustrations, finely rendered in the early 19th century, most probably by a Patna commercial atelier (muṣavvirkhānah) operated by father and son Faqīr Chand (ca. 1790–1865) and Shīvā Lāl (1817–1887), the latter known as Shāhī Muṣavvir (Royal Painter).

  • Folio 2a: The cat makes its way to the tavern.

    72 × 82 mm.

  • Folio 2b: The mice cavort in the tavern.

    86 × 81 mm.

  • Folio 3b: The cat seizes a mouse.

    111 × 83 mm.

  • Folio 4b: The cat repents in the mosque for killing the mouse.

    150 × 93 mm.

  • Folio 5a: A mouse reports the cat's repentance.

    25 × 38 mm.

  • Folio 5b: A delegation of seven mice brings gifts to the repentant cat.

    96 × 81 mm.

  • Folio 6a: The cat kills five of the mice delegation but two escape.

    108 × 103 mm.

  • Folio 7b: The king of the mice assembles his army.

    148 × 108 mm.

  • Folio 8b: The cat appears before the king of the cats to account for his actions.

    108 × 122 mm.

  • Folio 9a: The captive cat appears before the king of the mice.

    112 × 97 mm.

  • Folio 9b: The vizier of the mice accompanies the cat on horseback.

    68 × 103 mm.

  • Folio 10a: Cats slaughter the vizier of the mice.

    103 × 85 mm.

  • Folio 11a: The army of the mice captures the cat.

    124 × 114 mm.

  • Folio 12a: The king of the mice executes the cat.

    148 × 117 mm.

Inscription: the first right flyleaf b side (f. ib) states ‘Moosh-Nama, a very rare mock heroic Poem by Obed Zakany – J. B. Elliott. Patna April 10th 1846.’
Bookplates: The left paste-down: ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with shelfmark ‘F/11’, and ‘Bland MSS No. 40’.


Covered in full early nineteenth-century alizarin-coloured, pebble-grained starch-filled buckram (type III binding per Déroche, without flap).

Flyleaves of British-made predominantly medium-gray spotted Spanish wave patterned marbled endpapers.


Origin: Very likely completed in Probably Patna; early-mid-nineteenth-century CE, probably completed by the commercial atelier (muṣavvirkhānah) of painters Faqīr Chand (ca. 1790–1865), or his son Shīvā Lāl (1817–1887), known as Shāhī Muṣavvir (Royal Painter).

Provenance and Acquisition

Formerly in the collection of the Bengal Civil Service judge John Bardoe Elliott (1785–1863), then later acquired by the Persian scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865), after whose death 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.

Revised by James White in 2018.

Subsequently expanded and enhanced by Jake Benson in 2021 with reference to the manuscript, and in consultation with Dr Yuthika Sharma (Lecturer, University of Edinburgh) regarding the illustrations.


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)


Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation, the John Rylands Research, and the Soudavar Foundation


Comment on this record

Please fill out your details.

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

See the Availability section of this record for information on viewing the item in a reading room.