Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 309 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: This undated, complete copy of the Taẕkirat al-Shuʻarā (Chronicles of Poets) by Dawlatshāh Samarqandī (d. ca. 1494) contains biographical accounts of some 150 poets, together with selections of their works. The author hailed from a ruling Timurid-era elite family and dedicated this work to the cultural and political figure Mīr ‘Alī Shīr Navā'ī (d. 1501). Probably completed in India, a Scottish bookbinder named Robert MacCulloch (fl. 1827–1834) either bound or rebound at his firm in Mirzapore, Calcutta (Kolkata).
Incipit: برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): تحمیدی که شاهباز بلند پرواز اندیشه بساخت و فضای آن نتواند نمود
Explicit: برگ ۳۱۱پ (folio 311b): خدم بتأليف التذكرة أقل العباد دولتشاه بن علا الدولة يحيى شاه الغازي أصلح الله شأنه
Colophon: No colophon, and a date of 892 AH (1487–88 CE) indicates the date of the original work's composition, not completion of this manuscript.

Former owner Nathaniel Bland repeatedly references this work in his seminal essay on chronicles of poets, and E. G. Browne published a critical edition in 1901. For other copies in the Rylands collections, see Persian MS 54, 310, and 838.

Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Written on unpolished, straight-grained grayish-beige coloured paper, probably handmade in the Indian subcontinent ~1 mm. between laid lines and chain lines ~50 mm apart.
Extent: 311 folios (ff. i + 311 + ii).
Dimensions (leaf): 245 × 150 mm.
Dimensions (written): 184 × 105 mm.

Incomplete Hindu-Arabic pagination ink black ink on the upper corners until folio 12b.

Foliation: Incomplete modern foliation in pencilled Arabic numerals at top-left of the a sides, completed by the cataloguer. Note that the incompleted foliation miscounted 312 folios, when it actually holds 311.


Quaternions throughout. 39IV(312)

Catchwords on b side of nearly every folio.


In good condition.


1 column and 2 for some poetry. 15 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Copied in a neat nasta'liq script hand in black, with Arabic quotations, names of poets, and some descriptors in red.

Bookplates and Binder's Ticket
  • Left paste-down , pasted binder's ticket: ‘Bound by R. Macculloch No 143 Mirzapore Calcutta’.

  • Left paste-down, ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with shelfmark ‘2/G’, and ‘Bland MSS No. 470’.


Bound by Robert MacCulloch (fl. 1827–1834) in Mirzapore, Calcutta (Kolkata). According to East India Company records (Z/O/1/10 No. 6261, spelled ‘McCulloch’) obtained a bond and covenant with security of £500 to reside in Bengal, sponsored by Edinburgh bookbinders Archibald Sinclair of Shakspear Square, and James Marsh of Nether Bow, Edinburgh. An earlier record (N/1/12 f.44) recording the baptism of one ‘John McCullock, son of bookbinder Robert’ born at Fort William in 1822 likely references to the same individual.

Abbreviated sewing on three recessed cords with linen thread. Cloth endbands of the same linen applied to head and tail. Quarter bound by ‘R. MacCulloch, 145 Mirzapore,Calcutta’ in starch-filled linen cloth, gray-brown British shell patterned marbled paper sides, light brown sprinkled edges, and European wove paperendpapers.

Red sheepskin skiver leather label applied to the spine titled ‘TUSKIRAH I DOULET SHAHW’ in gold.

252 × 162 × 41 mm.

Handle with caution: in fair condition, abrasion to the edges and headcaps.


Origin: Probably Calcutta (Kolkata); late 18th-century.

Provenance and Acquisition

Subsequently acquired by Persian scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865), after whose death London antiquarian dealer 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.

Manuscript description completed by James White in 2017.

Record subsequently amended and enhanced by Jake Benson in 2021 with reference to the volume.


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

The Soudavar Memorial Foundation


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