Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 322 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: The Kalimāt al-Shuʻarāʼ (Discourses of the Poets) by Muḥammad Afz̤al Lāhūrī, pen-named 'Sarkhush', which he commenced in 1093 AH (1682–83) CE) based upon a chronogram of the title. He and his father both served the Mughal emperor Mughal Emperor ‘Alamgīr I. He recounts the lives and works of some 200 Indian poets, especially of Delhi, active during the reign of his patron's predecessors Jahāngīr and Shāh Jahān I, many of whom he knew personally.

The text appears complete, although it omits some entries and chronograms (the latter given in the conclusion). Former owner Nathaniel Bland (1803-1865) describes the work in his groundbreaking essay on biographies of Persian poets published in 1848. For a complete overview, see Sprenger's catalogue of the library of the Kings of Oudh.

Incipit: برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): سخن جان است و دیگر گفت و گو جانان ز ما بشنو
Explicit: برگ ۷۲پ (folio 72b): کرده احداث کعبه ابراهبم
Colophon: برگ ۷۲پ (folio 72b): تمام شد بخط فقیر قطب الدین الصدقی الکرمانی غفر الله له و اولاده ...
Colophon: Undated. Text copied by Quṭb al-Dīn al-Ṣidqī al-Kirmānī.
Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Text copied on very thin, brownish handmade paper probably handmade in India.
Extent: 72 folios (ff. viii + 72 + xvi).
Dimensions (leaf): 255 × 135 mm.
Dimensions (written): 188 × 94 mm.
Foliation: Hindu-Arabic numerals inscribed on the on the upper-right corners of most a sides in written in black, except where repaired.


Quaternions throughout. 9IV(72).Catchwords on the b sides throughout


Extensive water damage, staining, and insect holes thoughout. Historical repairs to the margins executed in handmade paper, with machine-made glassine paper repairs applied to the wormholes within the text, the sizing or adhesive of which since darkened.


Written in 1 column with 17 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Text copied in an angular nasta'liq by with shikastah finials by Quṭb al-Dīn al-Ṣidqī al-Kirmānī

  • The First right flyleaf bears the invocation Yā Kabīkaj (O King Cockroach) inscribed three times.
  • Folio 1a also bears the invocation Yā Kabīkaj (O King Cockroach) inscribed three times, with the title and description of the work, as well as three couplets.
  • Left paste-down, ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with shelfmark ‘2/E’, ‘Bland MSS No. 542’.


Likely rebound in the 19th century. Resewn all-along upon two narrow, flat woven slips put down on the right and left flyleaves of thick, cream-coloured Thick, cream-coloured handmade paper endpapers.paper. Edges trimmed, very small, flat twined chevron endbands at head and tail, covered by flattened headcaps. Recovered in full maroon morocco goatskin leatherover pasteboards, with squares at the edges, without a flap, (hence type III binding per Déroche). Board interiors lined with maroon sheepskin leatherdoublures the excess width of which extends as hinges onto flyleaves and covers the sewing the sewing supports, with strips of paper adhered over top to neaten the joins. Flyleaves of comapratively thick, cream-coloured handmade paper that bear flattened horizontal spine folds punched with sewing holes, hence recycled from another volume.

Exterior leather grain heavily polished or crushed smooth in an ~10 mm band along the perimeters of the boards, resulting in a sunken appearance. Paper labels on the front and spine bear the title inscribed in Persian.

263 × 144 × 21 mm.

In fair condition, with white salts (spew) present on both on the exterior binding and interior leather doublures that resulted from exposure to moisture.

Accompanying Material

  • Folio 36b A scrap of paper written in Arabic, on the ‘Nabateans’ of Iraq, under which heading the writer includes Assyrians and Chaldeans. Possibly in the hand of former owner Nathaniel Bland.


Origin: Probably completed in India; Undated, but circa 1700 CE

Provenance and Acquisition

Purchased by scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865), after whose death London antiquarian bookseller Bernard Quaritch (1819–1899) sold his oriental manuscripts 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) 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.

Record subsequently ammended and enhanced by Jake Benson in 2021 with reference to the volume.


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)


    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. 168–169.
    D. N. Marshall, Mughals in India: A Bibliographical Survey. Vol. 1. Manuscripts (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1962, p. 432, no. 1648.
    Aloys Sprenger, A Catalogue of Arabic, Persian and Hindustany Manuscripts in the Libraries of the King of Oudh. (Calcutta: Baptist Mission Press, 1854), pp. 108–115, no. 13.

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute

The Soudavar Memorial Foundation


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