Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 35 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: Illustrated copy of Niẓāmī Ganjavī's Khamsah, a collection of five epic poems.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Gold-powdered paper (written surface)

The majority of the folios have been remargined

Extent: 319 folios
Dimensions (leaf): 26 × 15.2 cm.
Dimensions (written): 15.8 × 7.9 cm.



In hand of Mir 'Ali


Four miniatures, consisting of two double-page miniatures within decorated margins at the beginning and end of the manuscript.

Double-pages of illuminations on folios 2b and 3a (Makhzan al-Asrar), 29b and 30a (Khusraw u Shirin - heading, fully decorated margins and text on gold ground), 97b and 98a (Layla wa Majnun - heading and decorated margins on plain ground), 149b and 150a (Haft Paykar - heading, fully decorated margins and text on gold ground but damaged at margins), 205b and 206a (Iskandar Nama - heading and decorated margins on plain ground), and 269b and 270a (Iqbal Nama - heading and decorated margins on plain ground, including waq-waq scrolls containing human and animal faces). Fully illuminated sub-headings and gold intercolumnar scrolls throughout.


Seventeenth-century binding of good quality, restored with gilt morocco back ('NIZAMI'S WORKS. PERSIAN MANUSCRIPT. M. DC.') and edges. The outer surfaces each have a central gilt panel very finely tooled in relief with animals and birds round a large central tree with clouds above. Above and below are two narrow gilt panels each containing two pheasants and foliage in relief. These are surrounded by a frame composed of six panels of inlaid red leather, with verses cut out in fine nasta'liq. The writing and its background of foliated scrolls were formerly inlaid with white and green leather respectively, but most of this has disappeared. The panels are separated by gilt rosettes. There is also an outer frame of inlaid gilt relief panels and corner-pieces of foliated scroll-work. The black morocco background to these various panels is painted with leafy designs in gold, but much of this has worn away. The central panels of the doublores have been replaced by marbled paper, matching the present end-papers. Above and below them are oblong panels of finely cut-out gilt floral scrolls (damaged) on green ground. The whole is enclosed in a frame of gilt cut-out scrolls set in blue panels, and corner-pieces.


Origin: 3 Dhu'l-qa'da 1037 (1628 CE) AH

Provenance and Acquisition

Decorated but uninformative colophons at the end of the first five poems. The last one (folio 318a) gives the copyist's name as Mir 'Ali 'at Shiraz, the abode of plenty' (dār al-fā'iz).

Seal-impression on folio 269a reading 'rukh i 'Abbās shād 'z Mihr 'Ali' with the date 1107/1696.

Formerly part of the collection of the Persian scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803-1865). Bland’s oriental manuscripts were sold through Bernard Quaritch in 1866 to Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford.

Purchased by Enriqueta Rylands, on behalf of the John Rylands Library, in 1901 from James Ludovic Lindsay, 26th Earl of Crawford.

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.

Codicological description based on B.W. Robinson, Persian Paintings in the John Rylands Library: A Descriptive Catalogue (London, 1980).


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.

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute


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