Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 351 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: The Aḥvāl-i Bānū Baygum Mumtāz Maḥal (Life of Lady Mumtāz Maḥal Baygum), an anonymous account of the death of Mumtāz Maḥal, wife of the Mughal ruler Shāh Jahān in 17 Ẕū-al-Ḥijjah 1040 (7 July 1631 CE), and the building of the Taj Mahal as her tomb. The work documents the Mughal family members to the children of ‘Ālamgīr I, and then provides a detailed account of the tomb, its appearance, dimensions, expenses paid for materials, including inlays of precious stones, and payments to architects and skilled labourers. An unidentified scribe probably completed this manuscript in the Indian subcontinent on 1 Ṣafar 1206 AH (21 Feb. 1844 CE).
Author: unknown
Incipit: (basmalla) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): حلاصهٔ احوال بانو بیگوم مخاطب ممتاز محل عدف تاج بی‌ بی بنت نواب اعتماد الدوله برادرزادی نور جهان بیگم اهلیه شاهجهان بادشاه ولد جهانگیر بادشاه غازی پیدایش بیگم صاحب سنه ۱۰ شادی بیگم صاحب سنه ۱۲۱ فوت شد در سنه ۱۴۰ هجری...
Explicit: برگ ۵۷پ (folio 57b): ...و کار فرمای معماران و غیره نوشته شده ....
Colophon: برگ ۵۷پ (folio 57b): تمت تمام شد کر نظام شد تحریر یکم ماه صفر سنه ۱۲۰۶ هجری مطابق ماه فروری سنه ۱۸۴۴ مقابله نموده شد.
Colophon: Completed on ‘1 Ṣafar 1206 [sic, actually 1260] AH, equivalent to February 1844 (21 Feb. 1844 CE)’
Language(s): Persian

For another variant copy of this same work, see Persian MS 878.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Textblock of very thin, straight and cross-grained, externally sized and polished, ivory-coloured paper probably handmade in the Indian subcontinent, with ~12 laid lines per cm and no discernible chain lines.
Extent: 58 folios, 4 flyleaves (ff. i + 58 + i).
Dimensions (leaf): 273 × 160 cm.
Dimensions (written): 189 × 104 cm.
Foliation: Pencilled Arabic numerals added to the upper-left corners.


Quaternions throughout. 6IV+2(58) Catchwords throughout most of the lower-left corners of the b sides.


Text in good condition with minor creases and stains.


Written in 1 column with 5 to 8 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Written in clear black nasta‘līq with Indic sīyāq numerals, sometimes written with red subheaders or alternating colours for the numbers.

Bookplate: Left pastedown: ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with pencilled shelfmark ‘2/F’.


Rebound by Fazakerley of Liverpool for Alexander Lindsay probably in the late 1860s to 1870s, as per their imprint on third left flyleaf a side (f. iiia), top.

Resewn on four recessed cords, laced into pasteboards. Head edge trimmed, and front-bead decorative endpapers sewn at head and tail. Covered in half navy-coloured oasis grained morocco goatskin leather, with five false bands on the spine, and waved 'Spanish' moiree patterned marbled paper sides, overprinted with gold veins.

Boards decorated with single-fillet lines in gold by the paper, spine bands paletted with single fillets in gold on top and in blind on eith side, and titled in second to third panels down with the work, class mark, and date of completion.

279 × 169 × 14 cm.

Binding in good condition.


Origin: Probably completed in the Indian subcontinent; 1 Ṣafar 1260 (21 Feb. 1844 CE) AH.

Provenance and Acquisition

While the circumstances under which this volume arrived in Britain remain unclear, scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865) acquired it for his library at Randalls Park, Leatherhead. After his death, London bookseller Bernard Quaritch (1819–1899) sold his oriental manuscripts to Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford (1812–1880) in 1866, and 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.

Record Sources

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

Manuscript description by Jake Benson in 2023 with reference to the volume in hand.


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.


    D. N. Marshall, Mughals in India: A Bibliographical Survey. Vol. 1. Manuscripts (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1962), pp. 352–353, no. 1313.
    C. Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian manuscripts in the British Museum, Vol. II (London: British Museum, 1881), pp. 430–431 [British Library Add. 8910, Or 194–195].
    C. A. Storey, Persian Literature: A Bio-bibliographical Survey, Vol. I Pt. 2 (London: Luzac & Co., 1939), pp. 761–762.
    C. A. Storey, Persian Literature: A Bio-bibliographical Survey, Vol. II, Pt. 1 (London: Luzac & Co., 1972), pp. 143–144, no. 1643(1).

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute


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