Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 305 (The John Rylands 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' (rawżah) 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.
Scribe: Rawshan روشن
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): برگهای ۹۶پ: 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, available only by private subscription. Sorabji Fardunji Mulla published the first publicly-available English translation in Mumbai (Bombay) 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‘liq script in black ink with names, sub-headers, and corrections in red.

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

  • Signatures: 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: left paste-down, Bibliotheca Lindesiana with shelfmark ‘2/J’, ‘Bland MSS No. 525’.


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 ‘BAHA- RSTAN OF JAMI MS’. Endleaves of heavier Indian handmade paper. 220 × 157 × 16 mm.


Handle with care. The binding is scuffed on the exterior and abraded at head and tail of the spine

Folio 1a:

A large seal impression of former owner Richard Whytell Rotton (1770–1810) dated in the 32nd regnal year of Shāh ʻĀlam II (1790–91), intaglio carved rectangular seal stacked in three lines of nasta‘liq script and impress in black ink, accompanied by his signature:

Transcription: روشن الدوله مبارز الملک رچارد وطل راطن اسعد بهادر ثابت چنگ

Transliteration: ‘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), then acquired by Turner Macan (1792–1836) as per their signatures and the former's seal on as per his seal on folio 1a. Possibly auctioned at Macan's estate sale by Jenkins, Low & Co. in Calcutta (Kolkata), then acquired by scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803-1865). After Bland’s 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. 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.


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 and The John Rylands Research Institute


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