Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 310 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: An incomplete 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). A scribe named Umīd Rāy Bilgramī completed this manuscript in 9 Ṣafar 1197 AH (14 January 1783) for a British patron, named Captain James Dunn, who could either be Colonel James Dunn (d. 1816) or Major James Dunn (d. 1824).
Incipit: برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): از اکابر شعراء و فصحای عرب بوده
Explicit: برگ ۳۲۵ر-پ (folios 325a–b): بخط امید رای بلگرامی سهو و خطا از بزرگان امیدوار عفو
Colophon: ‘Completed on Tuesday, the 9th (tāsiʻ hashtum [sic]) Ṣafar 1197 AH (14 January 1783) in the hand of Umīd Rāy Bilgramī, servant of the sarkār Captain James Dunn Ṣāḥib Bahādur’.

This volume omits the introduction and commences with an entry on the poet Labīd (d. 661). 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, 309, and 838.

Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Text written on polished laid paper handmade in India.
Extent: 325 folios (ff. ix + 325 + iii)
Dimensions (leaf): 225 × 160 mm.
Dimensions (written): 192 × 107 mm.
Foliation: Foliated in Hindu-Arabic numerals in black ink on the upper-left corners of the a sides.


Undetermined. Catchwords present throughout on the lower-left corners of the b side.


In excellent condition.


Written in 1 to 2 columns with 13 lines per page; consistently ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Written in large, legible nasta’liq script in black ink with names of poetic forms and poet in red, by Umīd Rāy Bilgramī

Table of Contents:The fifth to eights right flyleaves bear a table of contents for the poets listed in the volume, written in Persian.
  • The final right flyleaf a side (f. ixa) inscribed ‘D. Woodburn’.
  • Final left flyleaf b side (f. xiib) signed by former owner William Cureton (1808-1864)
  • Folio 206a bears a note on the original manuscript from which the scribe copied this volume.
Bookplates and Catalogue entries:
  • Right pastedown: pasted sale catalogue entry ‘278... Tezkir Shoara’ from the library of Adam Clarke (1762–1832), which matches his son's catalogue description, but bears an alternate number, hence likely sold at the subsequent Sotheby's sale. Also numbered ‘130’ and ‘404’.

  • Reverse of left flyleaf (f. xiia) remnants of a bookseller's or binder's ticket.

  • Left paste-down bears ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with the shelf mark ‘F/6’, and ‘Bland MSS No. 530’. Also another pasted catalogue entry, not from Baynes and Son's 1836 catalogue, but possibly from the subsequent sale of Clarke's collection by Sotheby's.


Resewn in Europe on four recessed supports, laced into wooden boards, with gilt and gauffered edges and silk decorative endpapers sewn at head and tail. Blue made endpapers, adhered to flyleaves watermarked ‘J. Whatman 18?? manufactured by the Whatman Paper Mill in Maidstone, Kent, then owned and operated by William Balston (1759–1849).

Board exteriors sculpted with raised central diamonds and triangular corners, with intervening chased recesses. Elegantly tooled exteriors feature large central open scrollwork floral designs and cornerspieces, with single fillet lines with solid and insular dots at the joins, scrollwork blossoms at the tips of the central diamonds and outer corners, with small profile blossoms in the inner corners of the recesses, all in gold. Interior dentelles bear repeated large cruciform designs impressed in rows, bounded by single fillet lines, with scrollwork sqaured corners, and solid dots at the joins in gold, and a dot-and-dart design along the exteriors in blind, and a decorative roll featuring alternating palmettes and insular dots, with the same profile blossoms at the corners as observed on the board exteriors, impressed upon the perimeters of the blue paper pastedowns.

233 × 167 × 57 mm.

Binding in excellent condition.


Origin: Probably India; 9th Ṣafar 1197 AH (14 January 1783), completed by Umīd Rāy for a Captain James Dunn (either Colonel James Dunn, d. 1816 or Major James Dunn, d. 1824).

Provenance and Acquisition

Subsequently inscribed by one ‘D. Woodburn’ who could either be David Woodburn (1805-1888) who served in the Bengal Medical Service 1827-1856, or David Woodburn (1745-1804), a colonel in the Bengal Army.

Later acquired by Methodist theologian Adam Clarke (1762–1832), then sold by his son Jospeh Butterworth Bulmer Clarke (d. 1855) in 1836, listed as no. 130 in his catalogue; however the entry number differs. While it does not appear for in Baynes & Son's catalogue, it may be from the subsequent Sotheby's catalogue for that collection.

University of Oxford Professor William Cureton (1808-1864) likely acquired the volume from Clarke's Sotheby's sale, and then inscribed the final left flyleaf b side (f. xiib).

Persian scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865) seemingly borrowed the volume from Cureton by to prepare his seminal essay on Persian poets, but then not did not return it before his death. Hence London antiquarian dealer Bernard Quaritch (1819–1899) unwittingly sold the volume 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 ammended 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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