Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 394 (The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: The undated eighth, concluding volume, of a complete set of the Rawz̤at al-Ṣafā (Garden of Purity), a general history from the creation of the world to the time of the author, together with Persian MS 387, Persian MS 388, 389, 390, 391, 392, and 393. While uniformly bound, the variant dimensions, formats and colophons within the set suggest that former owner George William Hamilton (1807–1868) assembled it together from disparate volumes completed in various locations and at different times.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Text block comprised of sized and polished, medium-weight, heavily flocked, butter-coloured paper possibly handmade in India.
Extent: 84 folios (ff. iv + 84 + i).
Dimensions (leaf): 309 × 168 mm.
Dimensions (written): 230 × 126 mm.

Foliation marked at top-right corners of the a sides in Hindu-Arabic numerals in black starting at 268, that apprently continue from a prior volume, now lost.


Foliation marked at top-right corners of the a sides in pencilled Arabic numerals by the cataloguer.


Primarily quaternions throughout. 10IV(80)1II(84) Catchwords written written on the lower-left corners on the b sides throughout.


Handle with caution. In fair condition. Extensive insect damage and historical repairs throughout.


Written in 1 column, with 17 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Written primarily in a clear nasta‘līq hand in black, with subheaders in red.


Illuminated header on folio 1b.

Table of Contents: Inscriptions:
  • The first right flyleaf a side (f. ia) bears the title of the volume and the name of former owner Colonel George William Hamilton.
  • Dated notations on folio 1a:
    Top-right: Note in red dated Ramaz̤ān 1237 AH (22 May– 19 June 1822 CE) with a second in black dated Ramaz̤ān 1241 AH (9 Apr.–7 May 1826 CE)
    Top-left: Note to the left to the seal of Nāṣir al-Dīn Ḥaydar Shāh (1803–1837, r. 1827–1837) dated 25 Ṣafar 1237 AH (9 Sept. 1826 CE), with another underneath dated 17 Rabī‘ II 1256 AH (8 June 1840 CE).
    Centre-bottom Note underneath the seal of Amjad ‘Alī Shāh (1801–1847, r. 1842–1847) dated 29 Rabī‘ I 1260 AH (18 apr. 1844 CE), with another underneath dated 11 Muḥarram 1262 AH (9 Jan. 1846 CE).


Sewn on a single cordsupport. Trimmed with twined chevron endbands in red and yellow. Probably uniformly rebound in a hybrid British-Indian style in Probably uniformly rebound in a hybrid British-Indian style in Multan, together with the other volumes in full red goatskin leather over pasteboards, with squares at the edges, without a flap (type III binding per Déroche), as a set for former owner Colonel George William Hamilton.

276 × 181 × 21 mm.

Handle with caution. In poor condition. Sewing broken in several areas and text block split between folios 72 to 80, with white salts (spew) on the exterior binding due to prolonged exposure to moisture.


Three library seals of the kings of Awadh (Oude), intaglio-carved in nasta‘līq script in two stacked lines and impressed in vermillion ink on folios 1a and 83b, with another small square seal impressed at bottom-right on folio 1a.

  • 1: Rectangular seal impression ofthe library of Nāṣir al-Dīn Ḥaydar Shāh, King of Awadh (b. 1803 r. 1827–1837) dated 1244 AH (1828–29 CE), inscribed with his title Sulaymān Jāh:

    ‘ خوش است مهر کتبخانه سلیمان جاه * بهر کتاب مزین چو نقش بسم الله، ١٢۴۴’

    Khvush ast muhur-i kitābkhānah-'i Sulaymān Jāh bahr-i kitāb; muzayyin chaw naqsh-i basmallah, 1244 ’ (‘The seal of the library of Sulaymān Jāh is good; it embellishes the book like the design of a basmallah, 1244 AH [1828–29 CE]’).

    17 × 37 mm.

  • 2: Rectangular seal impression surmounted by the royal emblem of Awadh, of Amjad ‘Alī Shāh, King of Awadh (b. 1801 r. 1842–1847) dated 1260 AH (1844–45 CE):

    ‘ ناسخ هر مهر شد چون شد مزین بر کتاب * خاتم امجد علی شاه زمان عالیجناب، ١٢٦٠ ’

    Nāsukh har muhur shud chun shud muzayyin bar kitāb; khātim-i Amjad ‘Alī Shāh zamān-i ‘Ālījanāb, 1260’ (‘Every [prior] seal became cancelled since the book became embellished by the seal of Amjad ‘Alī Shāh in the era of his Sublime Majesty, 1260 AH [1844–45 CE]’).

    53 × 45 mm.

  • 3: Rectangular seal impression surmounted by the royal emblem Awadh, of Wājid ‘Alī Shāh King of Awadh (b. 1822, r. 1847–1856) dated 1262 AH (1846–47 CE):

    ‘ خاتم واجد علی سلطان عالم بر کتاب * ثابت و پر نور بادا تا فروغ آفتاب، ١٢۶۲ ’

    Khātim-i Wājid ‘Alī, Sulṭān-i ‘Ālam bar kitāb, s̄abit va pur nūr bādā tā farūgh-i āftāb, 1262’ (‘The seal of Wājid ‘Alī, Sulṭān of the World, upon the book shall be permanent and as bright as sunlight, 1262 AH [1847 CE]’).

    41 × 26 mm.

  • 4: Also on folio 1a, bottom, a rectangular seal impression, intaglio carved in nasta‘līq script, stacked in two lines, single-ruled, of former owner or associate Nīnkā Bayg Khān dated 1230 AH (1814–15 CE).

    ‘ نینکا بیگ خان بندهٔ حسین، ١٢۳۰ ’

    13 × 14 mm.


Origin: Probably India; undated, but possibly mid-18th to early 19th century CE.

Provenance and Acquisition

Previously owned or inspected by an unidentified person named Nīnkā Bayg Khān, as per his seal impression on folio 1b dated 1230 AH (1814–15 CE), possibly an assitant to the royal library of Awadh during the reign of Ghazī al-Dīn Ḥaydar Shāh, r. 1818–27.

Definitely held in the royal library of Awadh in Lucknow, as indicated by dated library notations on folio 1a, and seal impressions of the Kings of Awadh Nāṣir al-Dīn Ḥaydar Shāh (b. 1803, r. 1827–1837), Amjad ‘Alī Shāh (b. 1801, r. 1842–1847), and Wājid ‘Alī Shāh (b. 1822, r. 1847–1856). Very likely looted during India's First War of Independence, when British soldiers presumably ransacked the royal palace and library on 15 March 1858.

Subsequently acquired by Colonel George William Hamilton (1807-1868) who served in India from 1823 to 1867, latterly as Commissioner in Delhi. He acquired over a thousand Indian and Persian manuscripts from which the British Museum selected 352 after his death, now held in the British Library.

Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford (1812–1880), purchased the remainder in 1868.

Purchased by Enriqueta Rylands (1843–1908) (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 by Jake Benson in 2021 with reference to the volume in hand.


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.

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation and The John Rylands Research Institute


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