Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 317 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts

The Tuḥfah-ʼi Sāmī (Gift of Sām), composed by Prince Sām Mīrzā (1517–1567).


Summary of Contents: This volume primarily contains the Tuḥfah-ʼi Sāmī (Gift of Sām), composed by Prince Sām Mīrzā (1517–1567), together with a folded octavo of notes by former owner Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865), now held in a polyester sleeve, with another isolated note inserted in the volume.

Physical Description

Form: codex
  • Mounted signature on the right pastedown and on the first right flyleaf a side (f. ia) by former owner ‘W. Chatfield’, probably Captain William Chatfield (1783–1820).
  • The first right flyleaf a side (f. ia) also signed by ‘S. H. Lewin’, (Samuel Hawtayne Lewin) in 1823 above a French description of the volume in his hand:
    ‘"Histoire des poetes ecrite en Persan par Sam Mirza fils de Schah Ismael Safi premier roi de Perse de la dynastie des Sofis. Voy. le notice par S. de Sacy (Not. et Extraits des MSS du roi t.IV p. 273)."’
  • Folio 1a bears several Persian notations, one in red, partly obliterated, declaring that the manuscript entered the library of Nawāb Ṣāḥib ʿAlī Khān Bahādur in 1187 AH (1773 CE), adjacent to two illegible impressions of the same oval seal.
  • Folio 150b features an abraded, unrelated Arabic text in on a Shi'i religious topic.
Bookplates: The left doublure bears the ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ bookplate with shelf mark ‘2/G’, and ‘Bland MSS No. 537’, with the name and number crossed out and ‘Persian’ and ‘317’ written aside.


Textblock trimmed, resewn, and rebound, probably in Britain for possibly Captain William Chatfield (1783–1820) in the late 18th to early 19th century, since he signed the added endpaper, in European-style full brown spattered calfskin leather over pasteboards. Textblock subsequently stitched by sewing machine and added buckram cloth guards and spine rebacked in brown goatskin leather with boards reattached with internal modern brown buckram cloth hinges, subsequently pulled and removed.

Single gilt fillet lines tooled on the margins of the boards, while the edges bear gilt diagonal lines.

245 × 155 × 34 mm.

Handle with caution. Binding in poor condition, detached from the manuscript prior to imaging. Currently disbound, boxed, and undergoing conservation treatment.


Origin: Probably completed in the Safavid empire; 22 Ramaz̤ān 977 AH (28 Feb. 1570 Julian/10 Mar. 1570 CE).

Provenance and Acquisition

The manuscript entered the library of one Nawwāb Ṣāḥib ‘Alī Khān Bahādur in 1187 AH (1773 CE) as per an inscription on folio 1a.

Subsequently acquired by an unknown owner, who described the volume in French on the first right flyleaf a side (f. ia), then one ‘W. Chatfield’, probably William Chatfield (1783–1820). A nephew of Charles Chatfield (1751–1791), Captain of the 1st Regiment Madras Light Native Cavalry and ultimately Aide-de-Camp to Governor of Bengal William Hastings, he died at Kulladghee (Kalādgi).

Presumably then inherited by his widow Caroline Augusta neé Duncombe Chatfield (1798–1880) or daughter Mary Chatfield (1819-1853), then brought to Britain when they returned.

Thereafter acquired in 1823 from an unidentified source by Samuel Hawtayne Lewin (1795–1840), one of the Six Clerks of the Court of Chancery and Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, who signed and described the volume on the first right flyleaf a side (f. ia).

After Lewin's death, probably sold by his survivors to scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865) for his library at Randalls Park, Leatherhead.

After Bland's death, London bookseller Bernard Quaritch (1819–1899) sold his oriental manuscripts to Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford (1812–1880) in June, 1866, paid in two instalments of £450 and £400, and then moved to Bibliotheca Lindesiana at Haigh Hall, Wigan.

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, Manchester.

Persian MS 317A


Summary of Contents: The Tuḥfah-ʼi Sāmī (Gift of Sām), composed by Prince Sām Mīrzā (1517–1567), a younger half-brother of the Safavid ruler Shāh Tahmāsp I (r. 1524–1576). Likely first composed in the early 1550s, this copy appears to be one the earliest known, completed in 977 AH (1570 CE) just eleven years after the author's execution, together with most of his family members, on his brother's orders. He divides the work into seven sections containing over 700 entries recounting the lives of political, literary, religious, and cultural figures. His numerous eyewitness accounts of his contemporaries many of whom he knew personally, makes this work an invaluable resource on early Safavid Iran. Not only do many historians and anthologists extensively cite and quote him, but his literary style also significantly influenced subsequent biographical works.
Folios 1b to 150a
Incipit: برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): لله الحمد قبل كل كلام بصفات الجلال والاكرام
Explicit: برگ ۱۵۰ر (folio 150a): ⟨...ای(؟)⟩ بادشه فراز جهان * عدوی آل علی با دست و راز و تراز
Colophon: برگ ۱۵۰ر (folio 150a): ⟨...آن(؟)⟩ فراغ عن تحریره و ثمیقه بعون عنایت آلهی بیمن هدایب نامشائی چون این نسخه در تاریخ اثنی و عشرین من شهر رمضان المبارک سنه سعه و سبعین و تسعمایه باتمام رسید و این عروس جواهر زواهر بدرر لیای و عبارات استعارات و امثال و اشعار اراسته شد توقع از طبع شریف و ذهن لطیف علماء عامل و فضلای کامل آنکه چونینکه این در رسند از این نسخه‌‌ٔ خط وافر دریا بند اگر سهوی از زبان قلم و قلم زبان واقع شده باشد توقع از کرم عمیم و طبع سلیم و دنین مستقیم در پذیرند و عفو نماید و در اصلاح کوشند شک که این نامه بعنوان رسید پسر از عمر شاهان رسید. این نوشتم تا بر آید روزگار * من نمانم خط بماند یادگار.
Colophon: Completed on 22 Ramaz̤ān 977 AH (28 Feb 1570 Julian/10 March 1570 CE).
Language(s): Persian and Arabic.

The text appears complete, albeit it significantly differ from printed editions. For two earlier redactions, British Library, Add. 24,362 and Or. 3490, dated 969 AH (1561 CE) and 976 AH (1569 CE) respectively, see Rieu. French orientalist Silvestre de Sacy (1758–1838) first highlighted the importance of the text, delineated the individuals mentioned, and translated key passages in 1798. Ḥasan Vaḥīd Dastgirdī (1881–1942) published the first complete critical edition in Iran in 1936, but it omits this manuscript, Theodore Beers completed a detailed analysis of the work in his doctoral dissertation in 2020.

Physical Description

Support: Copied on polished, cream-coloured cross-grained paper, handmade in Europe, possibly in the Italian peninsula.
Extent: 150 folios, 2 flyleaves (ff. i + 150 + i).
Dimensions (leaf): 235 × 135 mm.
Dimensions (written): 155 × 80 mm.
Foliation: Foliated in Hindu-Arabic numerals in the upper-right corners in black ink.


Possibly primarily quaternions throughout. Catchwords throughout on the lower-left corners of the b sides.


Handle text with caution. In poor but stable condition. Insect damage and extensive historical repairs throughout, especially in the gutters. Text block previoulsy machine oversewn, since taken apart. Folio 150a–150b previously extensively repaired, with a conspicuously smudged rectanglular cut out by the colophon, probably a seal impression that someone removed then repaired.


Written in 1 to 2 columns, with 16 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Copied in a neat black nasta'līq, with the names of poets, poetic forms, and Arabic passages marked in red.

Persian MS 317B


Summary of Contents: An unsewn folded octavo gathering bearing English notes listing the names of poets, possibly in the hand former owner Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865), held within a polyester sleeve, along with another loose note found between folios 104b and 105a.
Loose leaves 1a–9b
Language(s): English

Physical Description

Form: quire
Support: Written on ivoury-coloured straight and cross-grained paper with Britannia watermarks and countermarked ‘W. Turner’ manufactured by William Turner (d. 1828) who owned and operated Chafford Mill Nº 389 in Fordcombe, Penshurst, Tunbridge Wells, Kent.
Extent: 16 folios
Dimensions (leaf):


Written in 1 to 2 columns, with up to 33 written lines per page. Unruled.

Additional Information

Record Sources

Bibliographical description based on an index created by Reza Navabpour circa 1993, derived from a manuscript catalogue by Michael Kerney, circa 1890s then conisely published as Bibliotheca Lindesiana, Hand-list of Oriental Manuscripts: Arabic, Persian, Turkish, 1898.

Revised and expanded by James White in 2018 with reference to the manuscript.

Further amended and enhanced by Jake Benson in 2021, with reference to the manuscript and in consultation with Dr. Theodore Beers, Freie Universität Berlin.


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)


    M. I. Kazi, “Sām Mīrzā and his 'Tuḥfa-i-Sāmī'” in Indo-Iranica Vol. 13, No. 2. (1960): pp. 68–89.
    B. Reinert, “Sām Mīrzā” in Encyclopaedia of Islam (Online). (2012).
    C. Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the British Museum, Vol. I. (London: British Museum, 1879), pp. 367–368 [British Library Add. 24,362].
    C. Rieu, Supplement to the Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the British Museum. (London: British Museum, 1895), p. 71, no. 103 [British Library Or. 3490].
    S. de Sacy, Notices et extraits des manuscrits de la Bibliothèque Nationale. (Paris: L'Imprimerie de la République, 'An 7'(1798 CE), pp. 273–308.
    Sām Mīrzā, Taz̲kīrah-ʼi Tuḥfah-'i Sāmī. Edited by Ḥasan Vaḥīd Dastgirdī. Tehran: Maṭbaʻah-'i Armaghān, 1314 HS (1935–1936 CE).
    C. A. Storey Persian Literature: A Bio-bibliographical Survey, Vols. I–II, Biography, Additions, and Corrections: Section 2, History, Biography, etc. no. 1100(1).

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute and Library

The Soudavar Memorial Foundation

The Persian Heritage Foundation


Comment on this record

Please fill out your details.

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

See the Availability section of this record for information on viewing the item in a reading room.