Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 315 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: Muḥammad Ṭāhir Naṣrābādī (1618–?) originally completed his Taz̲kirat al-shuʻarā' (Chronicle of Poets), also known as the Taz̲kira-yi Naṣrābādī after its author, in Isfahan in 1680 CE. This comprehensive work documents Persianate rulers, elites, scholars, and literary figures, including a thousand poets. Considered a preeminent source on Iran and India in the 16th–17th centuries, it sheds valuable light upon the culture of Isfahan during the author's lifetime. An unidentified scribe completed manuscript in 1105 AH (1693 CE), just thirteen years after the original. However, in comparison to other redactions and a printed edition, the entries within it vary and omit several authors. It also includes an addendum on the poets of Yazd not found in other manuscripts.
Incipit: برگ ۱۹پ (folio 19b): سر سبزی نهال خامه از طراوت به بحر ذخار تذکار حمد صانعیست
Explicit: برگ ۴۰۲ر (folio 402a): زادیم در محنت و مردیم در وفا آن او سخن بود این آخر سخن
Colophon: برگ ۱۹پ، سطر ۶ (folio 19b, line 6): تمام حروف نود است داوش بعنوان لفظی نود است و طرفش بعتبار اینکه بود شصت است نود است و ثلث نود خود طاهر است صورت اتمام و نقش بر ندافت(؟) اختسام درین گلشن بدایع نگار و گلزار همیشه بهار که طالبان فیض معارف و حقایق از معانیش کامیاب و منعطشان وادی طلب از طراوت الفاظش سیرانند ۱۷ شهر صفر سنه ۱۱۰۱ (۴)مرقوم قلم شکسته گردید یوم است تمام شد. تمت تمام شد کارم نظام شد.
بگفتم با قلم تاریخ بنویس * قلم شادی وی کنان گفتا شد آخر. چه اجر شد کتاب چون گلستان * که باشد فی المثل بر درد گوهر.
Colophon: The colophon curiously gives the date of 17 Ṣafar 1101 AH, with an added number 4, hence equal to 1105 AH (8 October 1693 CE). The sum value of a chronogram at the end of the first couplet on line 10 (shud ākhar) also equals a date of 1105 AH (1693 CE).

Following the colophon, folios 389a to 391a feature an addendum on the poets of Yazd.

Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Lightly sized and polished, buff-coloured laid paper, possibly made in Iran.
Extent: 405 folios (i + 405)
Dimensions (leaf): 245 × 145 mm.
Dimensions (written): 200 × 105 mm.

Hindu-Arabic numerals commence with the text proper on folio 19b, then thereafter written at the centre-top of the a sides until 402a.


Modern pencilled in Arabic numerals followed in this record start on folio 2a, written at the top-left corners of the a sides, inclusive of the second right flyleaf, table of contents, and final flyleaves, with 116a repeated twice.




Good condition, with moderate insect damage and repairs at head and tail.


Written in 1 to 2 columns, with 17 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Text copied in nasta'liq script in black ink, with titles, headings, and names of poets in red.


Margins ruled gold outlined in thin black single internal and double external lines, surrounded by red and blue.

Marginalia: Minimal marginal notations throughout.
  • Folio 3b signed ‘Wm Oliver 1802’ by former owner William Oliver.
  • Folio 4a bears a Persian acquisition note by William Oliver:

    ‘ الکتاب ولیم اولور خریده شد سنه۱۸۰۲ انگریزی ۱۲۱۶ هجری’

    ‘ (Mālik al-kitāb Wilyam Ūlivar kharīdah shud dar sanah 1802 Ingrīzī va sanah 1216 hijrī’, ‘The owner of the book, William Oliver, bought it in the English year 1802, and Hijri year 1216.’)

  • Folio 17a bears a Persian accession note by a former unidentified owner:

    ‘ ۵(؟) ربیع الاول سنه۱۲۰۰ هی داخل شد’

    (‘5(?) Rabī‘ al-Awwal sanah 1200 hī[hijrī] dākhil shud’, ‘Accessioned on 5(?) Rabī‘ I 1200 (12? December 1785)

Bookplates: The left paste-down, ‘Bibliotheca’ Lindesiana with shelfmark ‘1/G’, and ‘Bland MSS No. 535’, with the name and number crossed out and ‘Persian’ and ‘315’ written aside.


Possibly resewn and rebound in either India in a European-style binding for former owner William Oliver. Resewn then covered, tight-backed, in polished red artificially-grained goatskin leather over pasteboards without a flap (Type III binding as per Déroche). Machine-made endbands adhered at head and tail. European spotted marbled paper pastedowns and made flyleaves, with antique spot marbled paper hinges and subsequent wove paper flyleaves.

Board edges ruled with decorative roll featuring alternating dots and diamonds. Spine paletted with rows small quatrefoils in gold, with the title handwritten in nasta‘līq script in black black on a paper label.

257 × 170 × 68 mm.

Handle with caution. Binding in fair condition, with abraded exterior, board edges and headcaps. Restricted page openings to the gutter due to extremely tight sewing and excessive rounding and backing of the spine, which resulted in a pronounced wedge shape.


Folios 3a and 19a: relief-cut Latin script initials ‘W*O’ of former owner William Oliver impressed in black.

21.5 × 26 mm.

Folio 19a: an octagonal double-ruled intaglio-carved nastaliq script seal impression in black bearing the name of former owner William Oliver dated 1804:

ولیم اولر ۱۸۰۴.’

21.5 × 26 mm.


Origin: Possibly completed in Iran; 1105 AH (8 October 1693 CE)

Provenance and Acquisition

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

Subsequently acquired by Persian scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803-1865). Bland’s oriental manuscripts were sold through Bernard Quaritch 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) to the John Rylands Library in 1908.

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.

Manuscript description completed by James White in 2017.

Record subsequently ammended and enhanced 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).


    [George Eden] The Earl of Auckland, "Proceedings of the Twenty-Fourth Anniversary Meeting of the Society, Held on the 8th of May, 1847 [includes obituary of former owner William Oliver]." Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland Vol. 10 (1848): pp. iv–v.
    Kathryn Babayan, Mahmoud Fotoohi, 'ʿEmād-al-Dawla, Mīrzā Moḥammed-Ṭāher', Encyclopæadia Iranica, Vol. VIII, Fasc. 4, (1998) pp. 377-378.
    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. 111-176.
    Muḥammad Ṭāhir Naṣrʹābādī Iṣfahānī, Tazkirah-ʼi Naṣrʹābādī: Mushtamil bar sharḥ-i ḥāl va as̲ār-i qarīb-i hizār shāʻīr-i aṣr-i Ṣafavī. Tehran: Armaghān, 1317 SH (1938–39 CE).
    Charles Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the British Museum, Vol. I. (London: British Museum, 1879), pp. 368–69.
    Aloys Sprenger, A Catalogue of Arabic, Persian and Hindustany Manuscripts in the Libraries of the King of Oudh. (Calcutta: Baptist Mission Press, 1854), pp. 88-108.

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute

The Soudavar Memorial Foundation


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