Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 312 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: This complete copy of the Khulāṣat al-Ashʻār va Zubdat al-Afkār (Summary of Poems and Pith of Philosophies) by Mīr Taqī al-Dīn Kāshānī (fl. late 16th to early 17th century) chronicles early modern Persian poets. Comprised of an introduction, six parts, and an epilogue (khātimah), it profiles the lives of some 394 poets together with examples of their poems. The author recounts many contemporaries whom he knew personally and relates a number of valuable eyewitness accounts and observations not found in other sources. While the British Library holds a copy (Or. 3506) that contains the first part of the work in Mīr Taqī's hand, this volume includes the final epilogue. Former owner, scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865), explicitly references this manuscript in his essay on Persian poetry chronicles. He describes how it opens with an econium praising God, the Prophet Muhammad and his progeny, followed by Safavid ruler Shāh Ṭahmāsp I (b. 1514, r. 1524–1576). However, he also notes how the author curiously dedicated it to the ruler of the Deccan Sultanate of Bijapur, Ībrāhīm ‘Ādil Shāh II (b. 1571, r. 1580–1626) on folio 3b, which likely reflects declining patronage in Iran after Ṭahmāsp's death.
Incipit: (basmalla) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): جوهر حمد و ثنائی مفرح قلوب اصحاب دین مبین
Colophon: در آخر مجلد ثانی، برگ ۱۸۹ر (‌End of Book Two, folio ‌‌189a): تم المجلد الثاني من رکن الاوّل من کتاب خلاصة الاشعار وزبد[ة] الافکار في یوم الثالثا احدي عشرین من شهر رمضان المبارک سنة ثلثین وثمان وألف هجریة النبویة علیه افضل الصلوات.
Colophon: در آخر مجلد رابع، برگ ۳۷۶پ (End of Book Four, folio ‌‌376b): تمت المجلد الرابع من خلاصة الاشعار وزبدة الافکار في شهر محرم الحرام سنة تسع و ثلثون وألف من هجرة النبوة علیه افضل الصلوة والملک لحیات.
Explicit: برگ ۵۶۲پ (folio 562b): (تست؟). بحر دکانی که در کف و دل تست * مایهٔ بحر‌ها و کان‌ها یاد تمت‌‌
Colophon: برگ ۵۶۲پ (folio 562b): خاتمه کتاب خلاصة الاشعار و زبدة الافکارخلاصة الاشعار و زبدة الافکاد تمام شر.
Colophon: Two dated colophons appear not at the conclusion of the volume, but at the end of Book Two (folio 189a) which indicates its completion on 21 Ramaz̤ān 1038 AH (14 May 29 CE), with another at the end of Book Four (folio 376b) dated in the month of Muḥarram 1039 AH (21 Aug. to 18 Sept. 1629 CE).
Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex

Textblock comprised of thin, sized, and highly polished ivory-coloured paper, possibly handmade in Khurasan.

Extent: 563 folios (ff. i + 563 + i)
Dimensions (leaf): 223 × 157 mm.
Dimensions (written): 185 × 110 mm.
Foliation: Hindu-Arabic numerals inscribed on the upper-left corners of the a sides in black ink. Folio 327a to 327Aa repeated, hence off thereafter by one, and folios 463a to 562acorrected by a second hand, also in black.


Undetermined, but probably quaternions throughout except for the last four folios (hence a binion). Catchwords throughout on the lower left corners of the b sides.


Extensive insect damage and historical repairs. Folios 225–289 appear severely discoloured, while folios 95–100 trimmed ~20 mm at the fore-edge.


Written in 1 column with 26 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Written in a small but clear nasta‘līq hand in black ink, along with lines indicating section breaks, subheaders, as well as verse markers in red.

Emendations and comments in a second nasta‘līq hand with shikastah finials.

  • Right flyleaf a side (ia) bears a neatly pencilled title in Persian, with corresponding English, likely in the hand of former owner Nathaniel Bland:

    ‘N. folio 4 verso c. l.’

    ‘Dowletshah 333’

    ‘The Author 541’

  • Folio 1a inscribed with the title in Persian, the number ‘567’ in an unidentified hand:

    ‘Tuzkireh al Shoâra by Takieddin Mohammed al-Hussaini surnamed Zikri, V. D'Hub. Takieddin Mohammed al-Hossaini qui the same author’ with a pencilled number ‘[L?] 44’ to the left.

  • Folio 1b, signed by former owner John Herbert Harington above the header:

    ‘Tuzkireh ool Shoraa[sic] of Meer Mohammed Takee.’

Sketch: Folio 2b bears a pencil-drawn hand that points to a passage in which the author addresses the "Jupiter-like lords of penetration and knowledge, and the Mercury acting possessors of intelligence and discernment" as translated by former owner Nathaniel Bland in his published essay (p. 127). Bookplates: The left pastedown: ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with shelfmark ‘1/H’, and ‘Bland MSS No. 532’, with the name and number crossed out and ‘Persian’ and ‘312’ written aside.


Likely rebound for John Herbert Harington (1765–1828) in ca. 1800. Resewn on three sawn-in cords laced into the pasteboards, with added British wove endpapers. Textblock edges trimmed and spattered in blue. Covered in an a British-style full calfskin leather tight-backed and tight-jointed binding. Since depressions of a sunken mandorla and detached finials appear evident under the pastedowns, it seems that the bookbinder recovered the original boards after turning them inside-out.

Board exteriors spattered in black, probably to the book after rebinding. Board margins decorated with a foliate decorative roll, and the edges rolled with diagonal thick solid and double thin dotted lines in gold. Spine panels palleted with pairs of double-fillets, with perpendicular single rope lines on the headcaps and criss-crossed by the tail, along with central panel ornaments featuring a bird with outstretched wings in a landscape, and titled ‘TUSKEEREH AL SHOARA M. S.’ also all in gold.

232 × 167 × 64 mm.

Handle with caution. Binding in fair condition, with exterior cover abrasion, bumped corners, and endbands missing at head and tail.


Origin: Possibly Iran or India; 1038–39 AH (1628–29 CE)

Provenance and Acquisition

Formerly owned by orientalist, colonial administrator, and judge John Herbert Harington (1765–1828), who critically published the Arabic and Persian works of the poet Sa‘dī in Calcutta in two volumes between 1791 to 1795.

Subsequently acquired by Persian scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865), after whose 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, derived from a manuscript catalogue by Michael Kerney, circa 1890s concisely published as Bibliotheca Lindesiana, Hand-list of Oriental Manuscripts: Arabic, Persian, Turkish, in 1898.

Manuscript description by Jake Benson in 2021 with reference to the volume 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)


    Nathaniel Bland, 'On the earliest Persian Biography of Poets, by Muhammad Aúfi, and on some other Works of the class called Tazkirat ul Shuârá', Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. IX. (1848): pp. 126–130, no. II.
    Charles Rieu, Supplement to the Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the British Museum (London: British Museum, 1895), pp. 72–73, no. 105 [BL Or. 3506].

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute


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