Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 305 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: Timurid court poet and renowned Sufi ‘Abd al-Raḥman Jāmī (1414–1492) originally composed the Bahāristān (Spring Garden) in 892 AH (1487 CE). Modelled upon the Gulistān (Rose Garden) of Saʻdī, he divided it into eight chapters or 'gardens' (rawz̤ah) devoted to Sufi saints and philosophers, the topics of justice, generosity, love, and comedy, as well as a highly esteemed section on poetic literature, and the last regarding animals. A scribe named Rawshan completed this volume in 1202 AH (1788 CE), in conjunction with the ‘jūbilī-i Firangī’, or the centenary of the Glorious Revolution in 1688.
Incipit: (basmalla) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): چو مرغ امر ذی بالی ز آغاز * نه از نیروی حمد آید به پرواز.
Explicit: برگ ۹۶پ (folio 96b): الاختتام و الصلاة و السلام علی محمد و آله البررة الکرام.
Colophon: برگ ۹۶پ (folio 96b): کاتب الحروف روشن متصل جوبلی فرنگی ممل سنه ۱۲۰۲ هجری بلده لکهنو.

Ottokar-Maria von Schlechta-Wssehrd (1825–1894) published the earliest critical edition of the Persian text together with a German translation in 1846. The Kama Shastra Society, co-founded by Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821–1890) and Forster Fitzgerald Arbuthnot (1833–1901), published the first complete, albeit anonymous English translation by Edward Rehatsek (1819-1891) in 1877, privately printed for subscribers. Sorabji Fardunji Mulla published the first publicly available English translation in Bombay (Mumbai) in 1899

Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex

Textblock comprised of sized and polished, ivory-coloured, thin Indian handmade paper.

Extent: 96 folios (i + 96 + i)
Dimensions (leaf): 210 × 145 mm.
Dimensions (written): 157 × 98 mm.

Foliation marked in pencil at the top-right of the a sides in Arabic numerals by the cataloguer.


12IV(96). Catchwords on b side of nearly every folio.


Handle with caution: there is extensive insect damage throughout. The first and last folios are heavily tipped to the flyleaves in the gutter and so do not open flat.


Written in 1 to 2 columns, 13 lines per page. Pages ruled with a miṣtarah


Written in nasta‘līq script in black ink with names, sub-headers, and corrections in red.

Marginalia and emendations to the text in a second shikastah-ta‘liq hand in black ink.

Inscriptions: folio 1a, signed by former owners Richard Whytell Rotton (1770–1810) ‘Rd. W. Rotton 14 April 1790’ (underneath his Persian seal), as well as ‘Macan’ the surname of Turner Macan (1792–1836).
Bookplates: The left paste-down, ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ bookplate with shelfmark ‘2/J’ and ‘Bland MSS No. 525’ with the name and number crossed out and ‘Persian’ and ‘305’ written aside.


Sewn on four sawn-in cords then laced into the pasteboards. Bound in India tight-backed in full artificially-grained and polished red goatskin, with squares at the edges, but no endbands. Spine titled at the head in gold handle-letters:
Endleaves of heavier Indian handmade paper.

220 × 157 × 16 mm.

Handle with care. Binding scuffed on the exterior and abraded at head and tail of the spine


Folio 1a bears a large seal rectangular impression of former owner Richard Whytell Rotton (1770–1810) dated in the 32nd regnal year of Shāh ʻĀlam II (1790–91 CE), intaglio carved rectangular seal stacked in three lines of nasta‘līq script and impress in black ink, accompanied by his signature:
‘روشن الدوله مبارز الملک رچارد وطل راطن اسعد بهادر ثابت چنگ’
(‘Rawshan al-Dawlah Mubāriz al-Mulk Richārd Viṭal Rāṭin Asʻad Bahādur Sābit Jang, [sana] 32 (1790–91)’).
11 × 25 mm.


Origin: Completed in Lucknow, India; 1202 AH (1788 CE), by the scribe Rawshan.

Provenance and Acquisition

Formerly owned by British mercenary and spy Richard Whytell Rotton (1770–1810) as per his seal on folio 1a, then possibly sold by his sons after his death.

Subsequently aqcuired by Turner Macan (1792-1836), Persian translator for the British East India Company, and instructor at Fort William College, who published the first critical edition of the Shāhnāmah of Firdawsī in 1829.

During a visit to Britain in Nov. 1833, Macan evidently sold an unspecified number of manuscripts to scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865) for £91, 3 shillings, and sixpence (see Bland papers, British Library, Add. 30378, no. 199), so the latter may have obtained this volume at that time. However after Macan's death, his family also sold some volumes in Calcutta (Kolkata) through the firm of Jenkins, Low & Co., but another subsequent sale by Evans in London on 12 Dec. 1838 omits this title.

After Bland's death, London Bookseller 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. Identification of provenance based on manuscript catalogue by Michael Kerney, circa 1890s.

Emended and enhanced by Jake Benson in 2020 with reference to the manuscript in hand.


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 Institute


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