Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 36 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: Illustrated copy of Nizami's Khamsa (five poems).
Title: Khamsah
Title: خمسۀ
Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Extent: 316 folios
Dimensions (leaf): 25.4 × 17.8 cm.
Dimensions (written): 16.5 × 10.8 cm.




Nineteen miniatures in the style associated with Shiraz.

Folios 3b and 4a are illuminated as a double title-page. There are also illuminated headings of equally fine quality on folios 29b(Khusraw u Shirin), 98b (Layla wa Majnun), 147b(Haft Paykar), 203b(Iskandar Nama) and 275b (Sharaf Nama), with the lettering in fine Kufic.

In addition, on folios 29a, 202b, 203a, 275a and 314a the blank spaces at the end of the poems are covered with geometrical diaper designs in gold and occasional touches of colour. On folios 98a,147a and 275a smaller spaces are filled with fine floral scrollwork in gold touched with colours.


Original binding (rebacked, the spine lettered KHEM-SEH I NIZAMI) of dark reddish-brown leather with tooled arabesque medallion and pendants, partly gilt, and narrow gilt frame. Doublures with medallion of fine bold cut-out work of brown leather on a background of blue, green and gold.


Origin: Safar 849 (1445 CE) AH

Provenance and Acquisition

The copyist has appended a colophon to each of the poems but gives neither his name nor the place where the manuscript was produced. The dates are between December 1444 and May 1445. Khusraw u Shirin (29b) - Monday, 5 Sha'ban 848/17 December 1444. Layla wa Majnun (98b) - Tuesday, 12 Ramazan 848/23 December 1444. Haft Paykar (147b) - Thursday, 12 Shawwal 848/22 January 1445. Iskandar Nama (202b) - Sunday, 14 Dhu'l-qua' da 848/22 February 1445. Sharaf Nama (275a) - Safar 849/May 1445.

On the upper margin of folio 3a is the seal of a former owner, Fath 'Ali b. Hidayat-allah, dated 1218/1803.

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.

Manuscript 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.

A digital facsimile is available via the University of Manchester LibraryImage Collections

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

British Institute for Persian Studies

The John Rylands Research Institute

Soudavar Memorial Foundation


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