Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 31 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: Illustrated copy of the Gūy va Chawgān (Ball and Polo Stick) or Ḥālnāmah (Book of Ecstasy), a Sufi mystical text by ʻĀrifī Haravī (d. ca. 1449), probably completed in Shaybanid-era Bukhara in the latter half of the 16th century CE.
Incipit: (basmalla) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): زان پیش که حسب حال گویم * از صانع ذو الجلال گویم
Explicit: برگ ۱۹پ (folio 19b): بحر دکانی که در کف و دل تست * مایهٔ بحر‌ها و کان‌ها یار(؟) تمت‌‌ *
Colophon: Colophon on folio 19b heavily overpainted in blue.
Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Tinted paper, probably handmade in Bukhara, laminated together, with extensively decorated gold flecked and spray-painted stencilled margins.
Extent: 20 folios, 5 flyleaves (ff. iii + 20 + ii).
Dimensions (leaf): 273 × 172 mm.
Dimensions (written): 140 × 70 mm.

Original Persian foliation in ink, beginning on the first folio.


Modern pencilled Arabic numberal begin on the fly-leaf rather than the first folio.


Originally binions throughout, but subsequently disrupted and folios disordered when restored. No catchwords.


Fair condition. Handle with caution. Beware of bending the stiff folios along the inner margins. Stains and insect damage throughout with historical repairs throughout.


Written in 2 columns with 14 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Written in a clear black nasta‘līq with subheaders in white.


Four mid-to-late-16th-century illustrations, including one double-page opening, attributed by B.W. Robinson to Shaybanid-era Bukhara.

Illuminated heading on folio 1b.Margins richly decorated with spray-painted stenciled designs in various colours, outlined in gold. Some margins bear applied paper medallions in contrasting colours bearing painted arabesque designs.

Inscription: right flyleaf a side:
‘To the Revd. A. Clarke LL.D. with W. Oliver's respectful Compts. 1810’, followed by an unidentified line of Persian poetry and the title of the work written twice.
Bookplates: The left paste-down, ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with shelfmark ‘F/11’, ‘Bland MSS No. 41’.


Resewn at four stations, possibly on supports, but without endbands. Bound in a fairly modern binding, probably in India, in smooth, fine-grained, polished red goatskin leather flush with the edges and without a flap (type III binding per Déroche). Boards blind-stamped with scalloped central medallions, detached pendants and corner-pieces engraved with floral scrollwork. Internal doublures of the same red leather as the exterior. Spine rebacked in goatskin leather, with repairs to the top edges of the boards and new hinges of the same leather. Flyleaves of modern European wove cream-coloured and orange-tinted cross-grained laid paper

274 × 173 × 17 mm.

Handle with caution. In fair condition. Spine linings restrict the text block opening.

Two stamps of former owner William Oliver impressed in black ink.

Folio 1a impressed with relief-cut, Latin script initials ‘W*O’. 21.5 × 26 mm.

Folio 19a bears an illegible octagonal seal impression, intaglio-carved in nasta'liq script, double-ruled, dated 1804, which comports with others belonging to former owner William Oliver in the Rylands collection (e.g. Persian MS 315:
‘ولیم اولر ۱۸۰۴’
21.5 × 26 mm.


Origin: Probably completed in Bukhara; undated, but probably mid-to-late-16th century CE.

Provenance and Acquisition

Formerly the property of William Oliver (d. 1847) of the East India Company and early Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society. An early graduate of Fort William College, he ultimately served on the Madras Presidency Council Board until his retirement in 1836.

In 1810, Oliver presented the manuscript to Methodist theologian Adam Clarke (ca. 1762–1832), after whose death his son Joseph Butterworth Bulmer Clarke, (ca.1797–1854) inherited the collection and offered it for sale (cat. no. 74), but thereafter omitted in subsequent sale catalogues of Clarke's library.

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.

Description of illustrations derived from B.W. Robinson, Persian Paintings in the John Rylands Library: A Descriptive Catalogue.

Manuscript description 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.


Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute


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