Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

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

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: Mūshnāma (Book of the Mouse) or Mūsh va Gurbah (Mouse and Cat), a mock-epic attributed to ‘Ubayd Zākānī (d. ca. 1370). Of uncertain origin, the text is considered to be a satirical fable concerning a cruel and hypocritical tyrant, often associated with Mubāriz al-Dīn Muḥammad (r. 1314–58), the founder of the Muzaffarid Dynasty (1314–93) in Iran. In the tale, the tyrant is symbolically represented as an evil cat that torments a community of virtuous mice. This exceptional manuscript is very finely transcribed and whimsically illustrated, probably in Patna in the early nineteenth century in the style of the so-called ‘Company School’ by an unknown scribe and painter.
Title: Mūshnāma
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
Language(s): Persian

This text has been translated numerous times by Mas'ūd-i Farzād, Omar Pound, and most recently by Hasan Javadi in an unpublished whimsical metrical translation.

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: 18 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.


Catchwords throughout.


The volume is in excellent condition.


2 columns. 13 lines per page.


Transcribed by an unknown scribe in nasta‘liq script in black ink, in a heavier hand for the majority of the text, with rubricated section headings.


Illustrations: Fourteen illustrations, finely rendered by an unknown artist in the early nineteenth-century, perhaps at Patna, in the style of the so-called "Company School."

  • Folio 2a, 72 × 82 mm.

    The cat makes its way to the tavern.

  • Folio 2b, 86 × 81 mm.

    The mice cavort in the tavern.

  • Folio 3b, 111 × 83 mm.

    The cat seizes a mouse.

  • Folio 4b, 150 × 93 mm.

    The cat repents in the mosque for killing the mouse.

  • Folio 5a, 25 × 38 mm.

    A mouse reports back that the cat has repented.

  • Folio 5b, 96 × 81 mm.

    A delegation of seven mice brings gifts to the repentant cat.

  • Folio 6a, 108 × 103 mm.

    The cat kills five of the mice but two escape.

  • Folio 7b, 148 × 108 mm.

    The king of the mice assembles his army.

  • Folio 8b, 108 × 122 mm.

    The cat is brought before the king of the cats to explain his actions.

  • Folio 9a, 112 × 97 mm.

    The captive cat is brought before the king of the mice.

  • Folio 9b, 68 × 103 mm.

    The vizier of the mice accompanies the cat on horseback.

  • Folio 10a, 103 × 85 mm.

    The vizier of the mice is slaughtered by the cats.

  • Folio 11a, 124 × 114 mm.

    The army of the mice captures the cat.

  • Folio 12a, 148 × 117 mm.

    The king of the mice executes the cat.

  • Inscription: folio ib, ‘Moosh-Nama, a very rare mock heroic Poem by Obed Zakany – J. B. Elliott. Patna April 10th 1846.’
  • Bookplates: 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: Probably Patna; likely early nineteenth-century CE.

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 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, and the Soudavar Foundation


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