Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 318 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: The earliest-known, probably holograph copy of the Khulāṣat al-Kalām (Essence of Oration), completed by the author, Navvāb Amīn al Dawlah ‘Azīz al-Mulk, ‘Alī Ībrāhīm Khān Bahādur, known as 'Nāṣir Jang', (d. 1793–94), pen-named 'Khayāl', in 1198 AH (1784 CE). The first of a two-volume anthology of Persian mas̱navī poetry, it contains entries for forty out of seventy-two poets chronicled in the complete work, begining with the letter ālif (الف) until the first page of letter ṣād (صاد), thus ending with poet Ḥusaynā Ṣabūḥī (d. 1198 AH 1677–78 CE). He also authored other legal, literary, and historical works, including Aḥvāl-i Jang-i Marhattah (Chronicle of the Maratha War), of which the John Rylands Library also holds a copy (Persian MS 452). Originally from Patna, Warren Hastings befriended the author and appointed him Chief Magistrate of Benares (Varanasi today), in which he served until his death. During that time, he composed this work and dedicated it to Hastings on folio 2b.
Incipit: برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): تعالی الله ما قصیر فهما کوتاه بیان را چه یارا که زبان حمد و ثنا متکلم بی زبان توانیم گشود.
Explicit: برگ ۴۰۵پ (folio 405b): نگین دان فیروزه آسمان.
Colophon: The volume lacks a colophon, but the author indicates that he completed the work in Benares (Varanasi) in 1198 AH (1784 CE) at the end of his introduction at the top of folio 2b.
Language(s): Persian

While the author did not explicitly sign this volume, he likely did on the now-missing second one. However, the hand clearly matches another manuscript that he completed, a musical text entitled Tuḥfat al-Hind (Gift of India), formerly held in the Royal Society Library then later transferred to the British Library (RSPA 78). An inscription on the flyleaf of that volume states that the author presented it to Sir William Jones in 1199 AH (1784 CE), with an adjacent seal impression engraved with his full name, dated 1783 AH CE. Note that Nathaniel Bland reports that John Bardoe Elliott (1785–1863) wrote to himself (and also Aloys Sprenger) that the author employed the pen-names of 'Khalīl' and 'Ḥāl'. However the pen-name 'Khayāl' appears at the top of folio 2a (see Bland no. XII, and Sprenger catalogue). For a complete description of the entire work, see both the ‘Abd al-Muqtadir and also the Sachau and Ethé catalogues.

Physical Description

Form: codex

Textblock comprised of sized and polished ivory-coloured paper handmade in India.

Extent: 405 folios (ff. vi + 405 + vi)
Dimensions (leaf): 410 × 245 mm.
Dimensions (written): 310 × 158 mm.
Foliation: Foliation marked at top-centre of the a sides in Hindu-Arabic numerals.
Foliation: Later Arabic numerals in pencil mistakenly starts on the second flyleaf, hence off by six; therefore, this record follows the original Hindu-Arabic numerals.


Undetermined. Catchwords on b side of nearly every folio.


Fair condition. Rodents nibbled cavities into the fore-edge and head that resemble index cuts. Folios 60-106 repaired or extended along the fore-edge, and prior tissue repairs applied to insect damaged areas.


Written in 4 columns with 25 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


In the hand of the author, ʻAlī Ibrāhīm Khān, (d. 1793–94), in nasta'liq script in black with titles, sub-headings, and the names of poets in red, with occasional marginalia by the same.

Additions: Table of Contents:
  • listed on the fourth flyleaf b side to fifth flyleaf a side (ff. ivb–vib).
  • folio Third right flyleaf b side (f. iiib): ‘No. 30 I.L.’
  • Sixth right flyleaf b side (f. iva): ‘to Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland by Sir John Malcolm (1769–1833), 19 May 1827
  • Left paste-down: ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with shelf mark ‘1/A’ ‘Bland MSS No. 538’.


Sewn on seven supports, with three laced into the pasteboards, then covered in full black goatskin leather Spine later rebacked, tight-backed in brown goatskin leather, with blind-tooled palette lines by the raised bands. Internal leather doublures of dark red goatskin, with later hand-coloured paper flyleaves likely added during restoration.

Board perimeters ruled in thin and thick lines with gold ink, the wider one repeatedly stamped with rows of insular dots.

412 × 251 × 65 mm.

In good condition, albeit restricted opening to the gutter margins.

Accompanying Material

Accompanied by a folded loose sheet of blue European handmade paper inscribed with an English list of names of the poets featured in the volume, likely in the hand of Nathaniel Bland.


Origin: Benares (Varanasi); 1198 AH (1784 CE), in the 27th year of the reign of Shāh ‘Ālam II (b. 1728, r. 1760–88; 1788–1806), as indicated by the author at the end of his introduction on folio 2b.

Provenance and Acquisition

Presented to the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland by Sir John Malcolm (1769–1833) on 19 May 1827.

Persian scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803-1865), evidently borrowed the volume from the library, likely to prepare his essay on poetic chronicles, but then he never returned before his death. London antiquarian dealer Antiquarian bookseller Bernard Quaritch (1819–1899) then inadvertantly sold the volume with the rest of Bland's collection 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 and his Bibliotheca Lindesiana, Hand-list of Oriental Manuscripts: Arabic, Persian, Turkish, 1898.

Manuscript description completed by James White in 2017.

Subsequently ammended and enhanced by Jake Benson in 2021 with reference to the volume, and in consultation with Dr Katherine Butler-Schofield, King's College, London.


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)


    Anonymous, “Appendix No. VII: Donations to the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, from April 7, 1827, to July 25, 1829, Viz. Donations of Books, &c.,” Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland Vol. II, no. 1. (1830): Xcv-Cxviii.
    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), 158–65, no. XII.
    ‘Abd al-Muqtadir, Catalogue of the Arabic and Persian Manuscripts in the Oriental Public Library at (Bankipore) Patna. Vol. VIII. (Calcutta: Baptist Mission Press, 1925), pp. 137–147, nos. 705–706.
    D. N. Marshall, Mughals in India: A Bibliographical Survey. Vol. 1. Manuscripts (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1962), pp. 60–61, no. 206 (iii).
    C. Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian manuscripts in the British Museum, Vol. I (London: British Museum, 1879), p. 280 [BL Add. 6577-6578].
    Eduard Sachau and Hermann Ethé, Catalogue of the Persian, Turkish, Hindûstani, and Pushtû manuscripts in the Bodleian Library Vol I. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1889), cols. 295–302, no. 390.
    Aloys Sprenger, A Catalogue of Arabic, Persian and Hindustany Manuscripts in the Libraries of the King of Oudh. (Calcutta: Baptist Mission Press, 1854), pp. 180-181, no. 45.

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute

The Soudavar Memorial Foundation


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