Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

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

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: Taz̲kirat al-shuʻarā' (Chronicle of Poets), also known as the Taz̲kira-yi Naṣrābādī after its author Muḥammad Ṭāhir‏ Naṣrābādī (1618–?), was originally completed 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 is particularly informative concerning the culture of Isfahan during the author's lifetime. This copy was completed in 1105 AH (1693 CE), just thirteen years after the original, and it features an addendum on the poets of Yazd.
Incipit: سر سبزی نهال خامه از طراوت به بحر ذخار تذکار حمد صانعیست
Explicit: زادیم در محنت و مردیم در وفا آن او سخن بود این آخر سخن
Colophon: Folio 388b, line 6: Completed 17 Ṣafar 1101 AH, with an added number 4, hence equal to 1105 AH (8 October 1693 CE). The sum value of a chronogram on line 10 (shud ākhar) also confirms a date of 1105 AH (1693 CE).

The work is complete.

There are several minor variations in the order of entries in comparison to print editions and other manuscripts, and a limited number of poets are missing.

Following the colophon, folios 389a–391a consist of an addendum on the poets of Yazd.

Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: lightly polished, buff-coloured indigenously-manufactured laid handmade paper. Marginal rulings in blue, red, and gold outlined in black.
Extent: 391 folios (iii + 391 + iii)
Dimensions (leaf): 245 × 145 mm.
Dimensions (written): 200 × 105 mm.

Foliation pencilled in Arabic numerals at the top-left corners of the a sides of the folios including the right flyleaves and table of contents. Earlier Hindu-Arabic numerals written at the centre-top of the a sides commons with the text proper (starting at folio 19a).


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


1 and 2 columns, 17 lines.


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

  • Marginalia: Minimal marginal notation.
  • Inscription: folio iiib

    ‘Wm Oliver 1802’.

  • Inscription: folio 1a

    Acquisition note by William Oliver in Persian: ‘ برگ ۱ر: الکتاب ولیم اولور خریده شد سنه۱۸۰۲ انگریزی ۱۲۱۶ هجری’

    Transliteration: ‘Mālik al-kitāb Wilyam Ūlivar kharīdah shud dar sanah 1802 Ingrīzī va sanah 1216 hijrī.’

    Translation: ‘The owner of the book, William Oliver, bought it in the English year 1802, and Hijri year 1216.’

  • Inscription: folio 17a

    Accession note by a former unknown owner, ‘ برگ ۱۷ر: ۵(؟) ربیع الاول سنه۱۲۰۰ هی داخل شد’

    Transliteration: ‘5(?) Rabī‘ al-Awwal sanah 1200 hī[hijriya] dākhil shud.’

    Translation: ‘Accessioned on 5(?) Rabī‘ I 1200 (12? December 1785)'’

  • Bookplates: left paste-down, Bibliotheca Lindesiana with shelfmark ‘1/G’, and ‘Bland MSS No. 535.’


Likely rebound in India in polished red artificially-grained goatskin leather over pasteboards (Type III binding without flap as per Déroche). Board edges ruled with decorative roll featuring alternating dots and diamonds. Tight-backed spine with panel lines paletted with rows small quatrefoils in gold and title handwritten in nasta‘liq script in black ink on a paper label. Machine-made endbands and European spotted marbled paper pastedowns and made flyleaves, with antique spot marbled paper hinges and wove paper flyleaves.

257 × 170 × 68 mm.


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 ولیم اولر ۱۸۰۴ (William Oliver), dated 1804.

21.5 × 26 mm.


Origin: Iran; 1105 AH (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. An early graduate of Fort William College, he ultimately served on the Madras Presidency Council Board until his retirement in 1836.

Subsequently acquired by the 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. Revised and expanded by James White in 2017 and Jake Benson in 2020 with reference to the manuscript.


The manuscript is available for consultation by any accredited reader, see Becoming a Reader for details. Please contact uml.special-collections@manchester.ac.uk for further information on the availability of this manuscript.


Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation and The John Rylands Research Institute

The Soudavar Foundation


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