Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 46 (The John Rylands 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, the work is divided into eight chapters or 'gardens' (rawżah) 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. This manuscript is the earliest of several copies held in the John Rylands Library, and was completed eleven years after the original in 903 AH (1498 CE). It opens with a pair of elegantly illuminated roundels, the second stating the name of the patron, Fāiḳ Pāşā, likely a little-known Ottoman vizier appointed late in the second reign of Sultan Mehmed II (r. 1444–1446; 1551–1581) into that of his son and successor Sultan Beyazid II (r. 1481–1512). The phrasing referencing an imaret along with a prayer for the longevity of his buildings, suggests it was copied for his pious charitable building complex that he commenced constructing in 898 AH (1492–93 CE), in Narda (now Arka, Greece), of which a mosque still survives today. The volume was magnificently rebound in an Islamic-inspired style but using European methods, probably for subsequent owner French orientalist Antoine-Isaac Silvestre de Sacy (1758–1838) in Paris; however, it still retains a late Ottoman period protective leather pouch that is lavishly embroidered with silver and silk threads.
Incipit: (basmalla) برگ ۱پ: چو مرغ امر ذی بالی ز آغاز * نه از نیروی حمد آید به پرواز
Explicit: برگ ۹۶پ: الاختتام و الصلاة و السلام علی محمد و آله البررة الکرام.
Colophon: برگهای ۱۷۰پ: تمت اکاتب بعون الله الملک الوهاب یوم الجمعة من اواخر آخر الربعين من شهور سنه ثلث وتسعامايه الهجريه المصطفويه م.

Completed ...on Friday, at the end of the last quarter of 903 AH, hence at the end of the 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, but it was only available by subscription. Sorabji Fardunji Mulla published the first publicly-available English translation in Mumbai (Bombay) in 1899.

Physical Description

Form: codex

The textblock is comprised of indigenously-made, sized, and highly polished thin ivory-coloured handmade paper from the Islamic world. The sizing is so heavily applied to the paper that some areas appear translucent.

Extent: 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.


Handle with caution: the volume is tightly-bound so the boards and flap are 'springy' and want to shut. There is a long vertical tear and a small loss in the middle of the third right flyleaf. The pouch is also torn at the front along the right seam.


Single column; 11 lines per page.


Copied in a nasta‘liq hand in black ink with red, blue, and gold subheaders for poems and stories, as well as verse markers in gold, black, red, and blue.

Marginalia copied in a minuscule nasta‘liq hand in black ink with occasional words in red.


Two illuminated roundels (shamsah/şemse) in early Ottoman style, extensively gilded, bounded by an ultramarine circle, and punched münhani scrollwork surrounding the perimeters, and with blue dots, 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 denoting the title and praising the 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 the manuscript was commissioned by the Ottoman vizier Fāiḳ Paşa (fl. ca. 1570–1510):

    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

  • Note: Right flyleaf, b side, No. 31.
  • Inscriptions:Third right flyleaf a side bears the title of the work in nastaliq written twice in different hands, once at top, and again in the middle in a heavier hand, adjacent to the name of Ḥājib ‘Abdallāh (possibly a subsequent custodian of the library) in naskh, both flecked with gold, so likely inscribed by the same person. Above that is an Arabic istikhārah supplication (prayer for seeking guidance), and an tuğra insignia to the left. At the bottom is inscribed an Arabic panegyric praising the Prophet and his progeny, with two Persian poems written diagonally on either side; a quatrain by Abū Sa‘īd Abū'l-Khayr on the right, and a couplet of Niẓāmī to the left.
  • Inscriptions: On folia 1a are several inscriptions. At top is a protective invocation: Yā Kabīkaj, Yā Ḥafīz, Yā Yā Kabīkaj ('O King Cockroach, O Protector, O King Cockroach'). An adjacent inscription by a former owner named Mụstafà bin Muḥammad 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 isn't clear. A third note begins al-Mawlā... Muḥammad ('The master Muḥammad [Meḥmed]'), but the rest is unclear.
  • Note: Second to last left flyleaf, b side, 'Sy 287'.
  • Bookplates: Right paste-down, 'M. Silvestre de Sacy 287' (also '281' above in pencil), and left paste-down, 'Bibliotheca Lindesiana' with shelfmark 'F/9', and 'Bland MSS No. 56'.


Although this manuscript is elegantly-bound in an tight-backed Islamic style binding (type II with flap as per Déroche) in full calfskin, the fact that it is a case binding covered in a single piece of leather (unlike Ottoman examples which are typically covered in two pieces that overlap on the spine), the lack of traditional chevron twined endbands, and especially the manner of tooling 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, and also the speckled decorated paper endpapers, all indicate that it was likely rebound in Europe, possibly in Paris for Silvestre de Sacy (and also noted in de Sacy's catalogue). 173 × 128 × 20 mm.

The accompanying pouch appears to late-Ottoman, made of what may be thick water buffalo leather, is finely diced on the exterior and lined with thin goatskin on the interior. The leather 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 same gracing the upper part of the flap with an added single septfoil floret and scrolling vine design. The pouch bears elaborate three loop and toggle closures: the flap is laced with three toggles (the right one broken off) embroidered in red, yellow, and ivory silks and silver threads (many now worn) opposite two red plaited silk cord loops (the middle one is missing) laced into the front side of the pouch, emerge at the bottom, and terminate in similarly-embroidered toggles. A metal ring at top left wall retains a large, similarly-embroidered toggle; however, the corresponding one one on the right is now missing. 190 × 140 × 33 mm.


  • Third left flyleaf verso:

    An obliterated, illegible marquise-shaped seal bearing an Ottoman tuğra insignia with the name of a former owner impressed in black ink.

    10 × 16 mm.
  • Folio 170b:

    A partially-legible oval seal inscribed with the name of a former owner named Hijrān (Ottoman: 'Hicrān') dated "109" hence 1109 AH(1697–8 CE) impressed in black ink.

    هجران بندهٔ خدا ۱۰۹

    Transliteration: Hijrān, 'bandah-'i Khudā, 109 (Ottoman: Hicrân, bende-i hüdâ, 109).

    15 × 18 mm.


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 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 ‘Abdallāh—possibly a subsequent custodian of the library— on the third right flyleaf a side, and Mụstafà bin Muḥammad, who inscribed his name on folio 1a) and declares ownership of the volume.

Impressed on folio 170b by Hijrān (Turkish: 'Hicrān'), based upon his seal impression dated 1109 AH(1697–8 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 Cataloque, Vol. III, Appendix, no. 287).

Later acquired by scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865), after whose death his oriental manuscripts were sold through Bernard Quaritch (1819–1899) in 1866 to Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford (1812–1880).

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. Emended and enhanced by Jake Benson in 2020 with reference to the manuscript.


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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