Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 39 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: A very rare and richly illustrated copy of the Tuḥfat al-Fuqarā' (Gift of the Impoverished), also called the Majma‘ al-Fuqarā' (Assembly of the Impoverished), by the author Chandra Bhan Barahman (d. ca. 1662), a Hindu munshī (secretary) who served the Mughal emperors Jahāngīr (b. 1569, r. 1605–1626) and Shāh Jahān (b. 1592 r. 1628–58). The volume features over seventy-two Pahari-style depictions of famous holy men (often referred to be the Arabic term faqīr, pl. fuqarā in the subcontinent), ascetics, Muslim Ṣūfī mystics, and Hindu swamis of the Mughal era, with ten blank spaces left unfinished at the end of the manuscript. Albeit unsigned and undated, this volume likely dates to the 18th century. While the author mentions the variant title Majma‘ al-Fuqarā' in a list of his own writings, other than this volume, no other copies appear to survive at this time.
Rubric: برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): شري کرشن پر بر هم نموستی عبارت هندی
Incipit: (beginning) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): اننت کوﭢ اشتانک دنڐوت سري اچت آنند پر بر هم آو پرس ابناسی را که بحبت کلیان سنت چنان خود با وصف الکهه امورت نرروپ اپرم ایار به سروپ سیام سندر مورمکٿ شنگهه چکر کداپدم مکر اکرت.
Explicit: برگ ۲۳۳ر (folio 233a): سال نشان میدادند و کشف و کرامت هم نقل میگردند در سن ایشان هنگام صوبداری اجین بمیرزا امان الله بیگ عبد الله خان اعظمشاهی پراپت شده.
Colophon: No colophon.

The author references a work by a variant title Majma‘ al-Fuqarā' or Majmūa‘ al-Fuqarā' in his compilation of ornate prose eplitolography entitled Munsh'āt-i Barahman. However, in their notes on this passage published to their critical edition of that work, S. Ḥ. Qāsimī and and W. Ḥ. Siddiqī apparently could not locate any copies of this work in subcontinental catalogues that they consulted. For a recent analysis of this author's life and ouvre, see Kinra. For a copy of this author's Dīvān, see Rylands Persian MS 584.

Language(s): Persian and Hindustani

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Textblock of cross-grained, ivory-coloured paper probably handmade in the Indian subcontinent with ~8 laid lines per cm and no discernible chain lines.
Extent: 156 folios, 4 flyleaves (ff. ii + 156 + ii).
Dimensions (leaf): 235 × 133 mm.
Foliation: Foliated in black Hindu-Arabic numerals on the upper-left corners of the a sides, followed in this record.
Foliation: Paginated in pencilled Arabic numerals.


Undetermined. Catchwords throughout most of the lower-left corners of the b sides, albeit many trimmed off when rebound.


In good condition, with modest discolouration and historical repairs.


Written in 1 column with 9 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Written in clear black nasta‘līq with red subheaders and markings.


Illustrations: Seventy-two portraits of different deities and famous holy men of the Mughal Empire; however, ten blank spaces at the end of the manuscript suggest that the painter never finished it

Inscription: The final left flyleaf a side (f. iva) bears several pencilled inscriptions, presumably in the hand of former owner Nathaniel Bland, which includes an illegible price paid for the volume, then identifies it as formerly
Sir Gore Ouseley's
72 Drawings
3 Dº loose(?)
places for 10 more
& 3 blank pages ’.
Bookplates: The left pastedown: ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with pencilled shelfmark ‘F/6’, and ‘Bland MSS No. 49’.


Rebound in Britain, possibly for former owner Sir Gore Ouseley, although the style markedly differs from other volumes from his library.

Resewn on two recessed cords, laced into pasteboards, then edges trimmed and gilt, nd decorative front-bead endbands sewn at head and tail in cream, as well as medium and dark brown silkthreads. polished dark red goatskin leather, with internal doublures of the same. Flyleaves of dark brown wove stiff-leaved to ivory wove add at front and back. Covered, hollow-backed, in full, medium-brown, straight-grained morrocco goatskin leather, with four pairs of false bands on the spine.

Spine panels palleted with single fillets besides the bands, with dashed rope designs upon and diapered ropes between them,and the board edges bear diagonal lines bound by double fillets, all in gold. Spine vaguely titled

Handle binding with caution, with the left board detached and some abrasion to the exterior.


Origin: Probably completed in the Indian subcontinent; undated, but probably 18th century.

Provenance and Acquisition

Subsequently acquired by Sir Gore Ouseley (1770–1844), as per a notation to that effect on the final left flyleaf a side (f. iva).

Later obtained by scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865) 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 2022 with reference to the volume in hand, and in consultation with Prof Rajeev Kinra, Northwestern University, regarding the attribution of this text to the author.


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)


Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute


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.