Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 46 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: The Timurid court poet and renowned Sufi ‘Abd al-Raḥman Jāmī (1414–1492) originally composed the Bahāristān (Spring Garden) in 892 AH (1487 CE). Modelled upon the Gulistān (Rose Garden) of Saʻdī, he divided the work into eight chapters or 'gardens' (rawz̤ah) devoted to Sufi saints and philosophers, the topics of justice, generosity, love, and comedy, as well as a highly esteemed section on poetic literature, and the last regarding animals. The earliest of several copies held in the John Rylands Library, an anonymous scribe completed in 903 AH (1498 CE), just eleven years after the author first composed it and six years after his death. It opens with a pair of elegantly illuminated roundels, the second stating the name of the patron, Fāiḳ Pāşā, likely an Ottoman vizier appointed late in the second reign of Sultan Mehmed II (r. 1444–1446) into that of his son and successor Sultan Beyazid II (r. 1481–1512). The phrasing referencing an ‘imāret along with a prayer for the longevity of his buildings, suggests he commissioned it for his charitable mosque complex that he commenced constructing in 898 AH (1492–93 CE), in Narda (now Arta, Greece), of which a mosque still survives today. Subsequent owner French orientalist Antoine-Isaac Silvestre de Sacy (1758–1838) in Paris likely had the volume rebound in Paris in an elegant, Islamic-inspired style binding, albeit constructed and decorated with European materials. However, it still retains a late Ottoman period protective leather pouch, lavishly embroidered with silver and silk threads.
Incipit: (basmalla) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): چو مرغ امر ذی بالی ز آغاز * نه از نیروی حمد آید به پرواز
Explicit: برگ ۱۷۰پ (folio 170b): برگ ۹۶پ: الاختتام و الصلاة و السلام علی محمد و آله البررة الکرام.
Colophon: برگ ۱۷۰پ (folio 170b): تمت اکاتب بعون الله الملک الوهاب یوم الجمعة من اواخر آخر الربعين من شهور سنه ثلث وتسعامايه الهجريه المصطفويه م.
Colophon: Completed ‘Friday, at the end of the last quarter of 903 AH (end of summer, 1498 CE)’.
Language(s): Persian

Ottokar-Maria von Schlechta-Wssehrd (1825–1894) published the earliest critical edition of the Persian text together with a German translation in 1846. The Kama Shastra Society, co-founded by Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821–1890) and Forster Fitzgerald Arbuthnot (1833–1901), published the first complete, albeit anonymous English translation by Edward Rehatsek (1819-1891) in 1877 available only to private subscribers. Sorabji Fardunji Mulla published the first publicly-available English translation in Bombay (Mumbai today) in 1899.

Physical Description

Form: codex

Textblock comprised of sized, and highly polished thin ivory-coloured handmade paper manufactured in the Islamic world, with sizing so heavily applied to the paper that some areas appear translucent.

Extent: 171 folios, 7 flyleaves (ff. iii + 171 + iv).
Dimensions (leaf): 170 × 119 mm.
Dimensions (written): 119 × 68 mm.
Foliation: Foliated in pencilled Arabic numerals on the upper left corners of the a sides.


Catchwords throughout on the lower left corners of the b sides.


Long vertical tear and a small loss in the middle of the third right flyleaf (f. iii).


Written in a single column with 11 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Copied in a nasta‘līq hand in black with added red, blue, and gold subheaders.


Roundels: Two early Ottoman style illuminated shamsah/şemse roundels extensively gilded, surrounded by an ultramarine circle, and punched münḥanī scrollwork surrounding the perimeters, with blue dots, which contain inscriptions written in rounded white riqā‘/rıḳā‘ script, outlined in fine black set against pale green floral scrollwork punctuated with blue dots. Fine ultramarine radiating lines (tīğ) connect the central roundel to pendants above and below featuring gilt double palmettes infilled in ultramarine with a red floral motif, and four corresponding lobed corners, similarly decorated frame the two pages.

  • First roundel:
    Folio 1b bears an inscription that proclaims the title of the work and praise for its author:

    ‘این سمزار معانی و بیان بهشت روضه بست عنوان لاجر مرشد نظیر گلستان و یافت بامر بهارستان از مولفات شیخ مولانا عبد الرحمن جامی عامله الله بلطفه السامی’.

  • Second roundel:
    Folio 2a, declares that Ottoman vizier Fāiḳ Paşa (fl. ca. 1570–1510)the manuscript was commissioned the manuscript:

    ‘برسم مطلاعة مهر آسمان وزارت و سیف میدان امارات ذات معاد شعار حضرت فایق پاشای کامکار شیّد الله تعالی بنیان سعادته الی أبد الأباد امین یا رب العالمین’.

Verse Markers: Red, blue, and gold marks throughout.

Ruling: Marginal ruling throughout in gold outlined with thin single interior and double exterior black lines.

  • Marginalia copied in a minuscule nasta‘līq hand in black ink with occasional words in red.
  • First right flyleaf b side (f. ib): ‘No. 31’.
  • The third right flyleaf a side (f. iiia) bears the title of the work in nasta'liq written twice in different hands, once at top, and again in the middle in a heavier hand, adjacent to the name of Ḥājib ‘Abd Allāh (possibly a subsequent custodian of the library) in naskh, both flecked with gold, so likely inscribed by the same person, with an Arabic istikhārah supplication (prayer for seeking guidance) above, and a tuğra insignia to the left. At the bottom, an Arabic panegyric praises the Prophet and his progeny, with a quatrain by Abū Sa‘īd Abū'l-Khayr a couplet of Niẓāmī written to the right and left.
  • Folio 1a bears a protective invocation: ‘Yā Kabīkaj, Yā Ḥafīz, Yā Yā Kabīkaj’ (‘O King Cockroach, O Protector, O King Cockroach’), with an adjacent inscription by a former owner named Mụstafà bin Muḥammad who declares in Arabic that ‘Istiṣaḥbuhu al-Faqīr Mụstafà ‘afī ‘anhu’ (‘The companion of poor Muṣtafā, forgive him’). Two adjacent obliterated inscriptions seem to reiterate his ownership twice: Mulkuhu al-Faqīr al-Ḥaqīr Mụstafà bin Muḥammad [Meḥmed] [possibly 'al-Safīr'?] (‘The property of poor, lowly Muṣtafā son of Meḥmed [the ambassador?]’); however, the end of the latter appears unclear. A third note begins ‘al-Mawlā... Muḥammad’ (‘The master Muḥammad [Meḥmed]’), with the remainder obliterated.
  • Second to last left flyleaf b side (f. ivb) ‘Sy 287’, from the sale of the library of former owner Antoine-Isaac Silvestre de Sacy, (1758–1838).
  • Right paste-down: ‘M. Silvestre de Sacy 287’ (also ‘281’ above in pencil)
  • Left paste-down: ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with shelfmark ‘F/9’, and ‘Bland MSS No. 56’.


Elegantly rebound, likely for de Sacy in Paris in an Islamic-inspired, tight-backed, case binding (type II with flap as per Déroche) covered in full calfskin leather, without endbands.

Tooled in an Islamic-inspired style in gold leaf with pointille fields framed by double fillets and decorative quatrefoil floral roll on the boards, as well as orbs and arrows on the fore-edge flap and spine.

173 × 128 × 20 mm.

Handle with caution. The boards of this tightly-bound volume do not open comfortably and spring shut.

Two black ink seal impressions of former owners or associates:

Third left flyleaf verso: An obliterated pointed oval-shaped, intaglio-carved seal impression, bearing an Ottoman insignia tuğra insignia with the illegible name of a former owner. Dimensions: 10 × 16 mm.

Folio 170b: A partially-legible oval seal impression inscribed with the name of a former owner named Hijrān (Ottoman: 'Hicrān') dated '109' hence 1109 AH (1697–8 CE). ‘هجران بندهٔ خدا ۱۰۹’ ‘Hijrān, 'bandah-'i Khudā, 109 (Ottoman: Hicrân, bende-i hüdâ, 109)’. Dimensions: 15 × 18 mm.

Accompanying Material

The accompanying pouch appears likely late-Ottoman, possibly late 18th to early 19th century, made of what may be thick water buffalo leather, finely diced on the exterior and lined with thin goatskin leather on the interior. Densely embroidered in silver thread on the back with three būtah (floral bushes, similar to paisley) punctuated by ten septfoil florets on a zig-zag ground, with further zig-zags on the side walls, and the upper part of the flap with an added single septfoil floret and scrolling vine design on the latter. The flap three bears loop-and-toggle closures, with the toggles embroidered in red, yellow, and ivory silks and silver threads (many now worn and the right missing) opposite two plaited red silk cord loops laced into the front pouch, emerge from the bottom, and terminate in knotted ends similar to the toggles. A metal ring on the top of the left wall retains a large embroidered toggle; however, the corresponding one on the right now appears missing.

190 × 140 × 33 mm.

Handle with caution. Beware of fragile embroidery threads and a vertical tear the right pouch seam.


Origin: Likely Istanbul; end of the last quarter of 903 AH (end of summer, 1498 CE), commissioned by the Ottoman vizier Fāiḳ Pāşā (fl. ca 1470–1510), probably for a library within his building complex (‘imāret) in Narda (now Arka, Greece) as indicated in the dedication within the illuminated roundel on folio 2a.

Provenance and Acquisition

Two undated inscriptions by Ḥājib ‘Abd Allāh (possibly a subsequent custodian of the library) on the third right flyleaf a side (f. iiia), and Mụstafà bin Muḥammad, who inscribed his name on folio 1a) and declares ownership of the volume, and 170b by Hijrān (Turkish: 'Hicrān') dated 1109 AH (1697–98 CE).

Subsequently acquired by French orientalist Antoine-Isaac Silvestre de Sacy, (1758–1838), as per his bookplate on the right paste-down and notation on the second to last left flyleaf, verso, whose library was sold in 1843, (see Catalogue, Vol. III, Appendix, no. 287).

Probably purchased at de Sacy's library sale by scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865). After his death, London bookseller Bernard Quaritch (1819–1899) sold his oriental manuscripts to Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford (1812–1880) in 1866.

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.

Record Sources

Bibliographical description based on an index created by Reza Navabpour circa 1993, derived from a manuscript handlist 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.


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.

Custodial History

Exhibited in Gilded Word and Radiant Image, sponsored by Altajir Trust, 9 Sept. to 21 Dec. 1992 .

Digital Images

Manchester Digital Collections (full digital facsimile)


Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute


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