Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 316 (The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: Mirʼāt al-khayāl (Mirror of the Imagination), completed by Shīr ʻAlī Khān Lūdī (fl. 1657–90) in 1103 AH (1690 CE) according to a chronogram in the final line, is an encyclopedia encompassing the lives and works of 136 poets — including fifteen female authors — interspersed with treatises on varied topics such as literature, music, medicine, physics, and ethics. The author's father, 'Alī Amjad Khān (d. 1673–74), was employed by the Mughal Prince Shāh Shuja‘ (d. 1661) in Bengal, where he studied under the poet Faraḥ Ḥusayn Nāẓim (d. 1653–64) then was subsequently employed by the Mughal nobleman Sayyid Shukrallāh Khān, Fawjdār of Dehli in 1090 AH (1679–80 CE). This manuscript was copied in India on European paper watermarked 1817. The scholar and former owner of this manuscript Nathaniel Bland (1803-1865) describes the work in his groundbreaking essay on biographies of Persian poets published in 1848.

Complete, with variations in comparison with the print edition. pp i-ii: index of entries in Persian

Incipit: صفحه ۱: ای ز تو بند بر زبان نطق سخن سرای را * فکر تو باعث جنون عقل گره گشای را
Explicit: صفحه ۴۶۵: صورت تاریخ اتمامش توان بی‌ضرده دید * گر تامل پرده بردارد زمرآت الخیال
Colophon: صفحه ۴۶۵: تمام شد نسخه مرآت الخیال من تصنیف شیر خان لودی
Language(s): Persian

Bombay (Mumbai) publisher Muḥammad Malik al-Kuttāb Shīrāzī issued the first lithographed edition in 1324 AH (1906 CE). For a complete description, see Sachau and Ethé's catalogue of the Bodleian Library, no. 374.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Pages 1–427 on cross-grained European handmade paper with chain lines 23mm and laid lines less than 1mm apart, watermarked with a heraldic design dated 1814; however, pages 428–465 are of straight-grained English handmade paper watermarked C Willmott 1817, made by Charles Willmott (d. 1840) of Sundridge Mill, Kent. The right flyleaf is watermarked Balston & Co of papermaker William Balston (1759–1849) at Springfield Mill in Maidstone, Kent and the left flyleaf bears what appears to be the opposite portion of the same insignia.
Extent: 465 pages (ii + 465 + ii)
Dimensions (leaf): 245 × 185 mm.
Dimensions (written): 210 × 110 mm.

Paginated on the upper corners in Hindu-Arabic numerals in black ink.


Catch words on b side of nearly every folio.


Good condition, but the opening is tight.


1 column throughout. Number of lines varies. Ruled impressions from a mistara


Pages 1–263: copied in a clear and refined nasta'liq primarily in black ink with the names of poets, Arabic passages, and chapter headings in the margins in red.

Pages 264–465: copied in a hurried nasta‘liq with shikastah ligatures in black ink with names of poets, Arabic passages, and chapter headings in the margins in red.

  • Table of Contents: written in Persian in a different hand on the right flyleaf both sides.
  • Bookplates: left paste-down, ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with shelfmark ‘2/F’, and ‘Bland MSS No. 536’.


Sewn on three cords laced into the pasteboards. Half bound in a European style tight backed red-brown goatskin with predominantly indigo blue Stormont marbled paper sides.

Blind tooled rope designs with a decorative wheel on the boards. Gilt panel bands with a double-line pallete and decorative palette at head and tail. Titled in handle letters ‘TUSKIRREH LODI’.

European front bead endbands, possibly in white, red, and blue silk.

257 × 200 × 33 mm.


Origin: Northern India; undated colophon, but after 1817 CE on the basis of Wilmott's watermark

Provenance and Acquisition

Formerly owned by orientalist William Cureton (1808–1864). Subsequently acquired by scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803-1865), after whose death his oriental manuscripts were sold through Bernard Quaritch (1819–1899) 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


Comment on this record

Please fill out your details.

How are we using your feedback? See our privacy policy.