Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 338 (The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: An abridged version of Qānūn al-Nisā’ (Rules for Women) by Jamāl al-Dīn Khvānsārī (d. 1713), a popular satire of prevailing superstitions in late Safavid-era Iran. Written the style of a legal manual, it features the rulings of five female religious scholars, chiefly one named Kuls̱ūm Nanah, hence an popular alternative title for the work.
Incipit: (beginning) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): اما بعد این رسالۀ است در باب آداب واطوار زنان
Explicit: برگ ۵۳ر (folio 53a): و وجه او را بمصرف مشروع میرسانند
Colophon: برگ ۵۳ر (folio 53a): تمام شد کتاب قانون النساء خط خام اصالتعلی بهاری
Colophon: Undated but signed by the scribe Aṣālat ʿAlī Bahārī.

While the opening denotes all fifteen chapter headings found in the original work, this volume only contains fourteen given in variant order, but omits one on naẕrī dishes offered by women to the poor during the month of Muharram. This redaction also varies from Bodleian MS Ouseley 15, no 2. British orientalist James A. Atkinson (1780–1852) published a loose translation of excerpted chapters in London in 1832.

Language(s): Persian
Folios 1b–2a.
Title: Introduction
Folios 2a–2b.
Title: Table of Contents
Folios 2b–8b.
Title: Chapter 1: On what is absolutely required of women deficient in intellect and faith.
Title: در آنجه عمل کردن در مذهب این طائفه ناقص العقل ناقص الدین واجب مطلق است.
Folios 8b–12a.
Title: Chapter 2: On what prior ‘ulamā' regarded as authentic traditions.
Title: در آنچه علمای سبق سنت مؤکد دانسته‌اند و تصریح باستحباب آن نموده‌اند.
Folios 12a–13b.
Title: On what bestows fortune upon daughters according to several sources.
Title: در بیان کشادن بخت دختران چندین قسم نقل شده است.
Folios 13b–16b.
Title: On prayer and fasting and its forms.
Title: در بیان نماز و روزه مخترعی ایشان.
Title: On obligatory fasting and its times.
Title: در بیان روزه‌های واجب و سنت ایشان و آداب آنها.
Title: On wedding nights and the practices of brides and what pertains to it.
Title: در آداب شب زنان و آنجه برو متعلق است.
Title: On pregnancy.
Title: در بیان زائدن زنان و وقت حامله بودن.
Title: On the rules for women attending the bath house.
Title: در بیان احکام حمام رفتن زنان.
Title: On singing and playing various instruments.
Title: سرودها و سازها و اوقات شنیدن اینها.
Title: On the interaction of women, their husbands, and their husbands’ families.
Title: در بیان سلوک زن با شوهر واقوام شوهر و سلوک شوهر با زن.
Title: On devices that women employ to deter the evil eye.
Title: در بیان تعویزاتی که از برای چشم زخم مخترع این طائفه شده.
Title: On intimates and strangers.
Title: در بیان محرم و نمحرم.
Title: On welcoming and saying goodbye to guests.
Title: در بیان وقت آمدن مهمان یا وقت بیرون رفتن او.
Title: Conclusion: ‘On some miscellaneous topics’.
Title: خاتمه در باب متفرقات.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Very thin, cream-coloured paper, likely handmade in India, laid lines 1 mm apart, no discernible chain lines.
Extent: 58 folios (ff. i + 58 + i).
Dimensions (leaf): 190 × 128 mm.
Dimensions (written): 143 × 76 mm.
Foliation: Foliated in pencilled Arabic numerals by the cataloguer.


Undetermined, but probably quaternions throughout.


In fair condition. Some insect damage, particularly on the final few leaves, with large losses.


Written in 1 column with 13 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Written in nasta‘līq In the hand of Aṣālat ʿAlī Bahārī in black.

Inscription: Bookplates:
  • Left paste-down, ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with shelfmark ‘>2/JG’, and ‘>Bland MSS No. 558.’


Resewn on sawn-in cords at three stations, laced into the pasteboards, with single-core endbands of red and black silk, and spattered edges. Rebound in a European style, full speckled, medium-brown calfskin leather, with stiff-leaved russet red endpapers.

Board margins tooled with gilt single fillet lines crossed at the corners, with the spine palleted with double-fillet panel lines with dotted lines on either side, and a gilt dotted roll tooled on the edges of the boards.

191 × 130 × 10 mm.

In good condition but opening restricted to the gutter margins.


Origin: Probably India; undated but probably completed by scribe Aṣālat ʿAlī Bahārī sometime before 1750 CE.

Provenance and Acquisition

Formerly owned by East India Company employee and Royal Asiatic Society Fellow William Oliver (d. 1847), who graduated from Fort William College then ultimately served on the Council Board of the Madras Presidency before his retirement in 1836. Subsequently acquired 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 2022 with reference to the volume.


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.

Digital Images

Manchester Digital Collections (full digital facsimile)


Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation, the John Rylands Research, and the Soudavar 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.