Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 48 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: Famed calligrapher Khalīl Allāh (fl. ca. 1580–1625) completed this abridged Divān of select poems by Amīr Shāhī Sabzavārī (d. 1453), possibly in Qazvin, at the behest of the powerful Safavid Qizilbāsh Amīr Murshid Qulī Sulṭān Ustājlū (d. 1589).
Title: Divān
Title: دیوان
Incipit: (basmala) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): ای نقش بسته نام خطت با سرشت ما * این حرف شد ز روز ازل سرنوشت ما.
Explicit: برگ ۴۴پ (folio 44b): ای بمحیط چرخ غواص شده * بر نالهٔ من فرشته رقاص شده.
Colophon: برگ ۴۵ر (folio 45a): دیوان حضرت امیر شاهی علیه مغلفره و الرضوان بسر خدا تمام رسید. حسب الامر حضرت نواب نامدار گردون وقار مملکت مدار عدالت شعار مرشد قلی سلطان فی شهر شعبان المعظم سنه ۹۸۸ کتبه الفقیر المذنب خلیل الله الکاتب غفر ذنوبه و ستر عیوبه.
Colophon: Completed by Khalīl Allāh at the behest of Muḥammad Qulī Sulṭān in the month of Sha‘bān 988 AH (21 Sep.–19 Oct. 1580 CE)
Language(s): Persian

For another manuscript of the Ḥabīb al-Siyar completed the year after for the same patron (National Library of Russia, Dorn 284), see Dorn and Bockholt. For other copies of this work held in the Rylands, see Persian MS 43 and 249.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Straw coloured-straight-grained paper w ~7 ll per cm, remargined w straight-grained paper, probably made in the Safavid Empire, 8 lines per cm. extensive floral motifs painted in gold wash (ḥālkārī) on the margins.
Extent: 45 folios, 4 flyleaves (ff. ii + 45 + ii).
Dimensions (leaf): 220 × 147 mm.
Dimensions (written): 150 × 83 mm.
Foliation: Pencilled Arabic numerals on the upper-left corners of the a sides throughout added when catalogued.


Undetermined. Catchwords throughout most of the lower-left corners of the b sides, on the later margins.


Handle text with caution. In fair condition, with breaks along the marginal ruling in the gutters.


Written in 1 to 2 columns with 5 to 12 lines per page, while folio 44b features an oblique layout. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Written in clear black nasta‘līq with white and pink subheaders, by Khalīl Allāh.


Illumination: Folio 1b bears a scalloped domed headpiece with gilt palmette foliate scrollwork on an ultramarine ground and an uninscribed central cartouche, and four vertical radiating lines.

Ruling: Folios 1b and 2a ruled in gold outlined with thin black lines, and surrounded by another single line. The margins of folios 2b onwards ruled with single lines of ultramarine blue.

  • Folio 1a autographed by former owner Jean-Baptiste-Louis-Jacques Rousseau (d. 1831) when he presented the volume to his friend Antoine-Isaac Silvestre de Sacy (1758–1838):
    ‘Au Favori des a Muses Persane
    Monsieur Silvestre De Sacy, membre de l'Institute & Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur;
    Homages Respectieux
    De Reconnoissance, &d'attoichment inviolable’.
  • The final left flyleaf b side (f. ivb) marked ‘SY 289’, which pertains to de Sacy's library sale.
  • Right doublure, Antoine-Isaac Silvestre de Sacy, marked ‘SY 289’.
  • The final left flyleaf a side (f. iva), ‘Bland MSS No. 58’ with the name and number crossed out and ‘Persian’ and ‘48’ written aside.
  • The final left flyleaf b side (f. ivb), ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with pencilled shelfmark ‘F/11’.


What what seems to possibly be an Ottoman-era restoration reuses the original boards, with the original exteriors removed, with the interior cut leather filigree doublures reversed outwards, then reattached by means of 'turned-out' leather doublures resulting in a hemmed appearance along the perimeters. Spine covered in a single piece of the same red goatskin, with flush-cut headcaps. Twined chevron endbands of white and blue silk over a flat core at head and tail (compare with Rylands Persian MS 23, also ex-de Sacy). Endpapers of thin-weight ivoury cross-grained European paper, ~10 laid line per cm and ~28 mm between chain lines, watermarked with a crest bearing an upright standing crowned lion and the initials letters ‘SA’,.

The original doublures bear delicate cut leather filigree over paper grounds, now largely abraded. Board perimeters tooled with a single striated, S-shaped design repeatedly impressed over painted gold margins to form rope designs (Turkish: zincirek).

155 × 151 × 20 mm.

Handle binding with caution. In fair condition with extensive abrasion to exterior decoration. Opening to the gutter margins restricted. Boxed.


Folio 1b bears 3 black oval seal impressions from the same matrix, hastily instaglio-carved in nasta‘līq, with the name of a former or associate, ‘Aḥmad’ within a central cartouche, surounded by Qur'an Surah Ikhlāṣ (Chapter on Sincerity) with verses 1–3 below, with the remainer above. 13 × 19 mm.

Accompanying Material

A green silk pouch, possibly Ottoman-era, accompanies the volume.


Origin: Completed by Khalīl Allāh (d. ca. 1625) at the behest of Muḥammad Qulī Sulṭān Ustājlū (d. 1589), probably in the Safavid Empire; ; Sha‘bān 988 AH (21 Sep.–19 Oct. 1580 CE).

Provenance and Acquisition

Formerly owned by an unidentified individual named Aḥmad as per his seal impressions on folio 1b.

Subsequently acquired by French orientalist Jean-Baptiste-Louis-Jacques Rousseau (d. 1831) in Tehran on 28 Jan. 1808. He then presented it to his friend and fellow scholar Antoine-Isaac Silvestre de Sacy (1758–1838), as per his incription on his bookplate on folio 1a.

After his death, presumably inherited by his son Samuel Ustazade Silvestre de Sacy (d. 1879), who sold many of his father's oriental manuscripts through Parisian booksellers Romain Merlin (1793–1871) and Grangeret de La Grange, (1790-1859) on 1843, (see Bibliothèque, Vol. III, App., no. 296), where an individual named 'Moore' purchased it.

Thereafter acquired by scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865) purchased it, then brought it to Britain.

After Bland's 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 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 2022 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.


    Amīr Shāhī Sabzavārī, Dīvan-i Amīr Shāhī-i Sabzavārī ʼaz Shuʻarā-yi Buzurq-i Sadah-i Nuhum-i Hijrī. Edited by Ḥamīdiyān Saʻīd. Tehran: Intishārāt-i Ibn Sīnā, 1348 SA (1969 CE).
    P. Bockholt, 'Same But Different? On copies of the general history Ḥabīb al-siyar in Saint Petersburg manuscript collections' Vestnik of Saint Petersburg University. Asian and African Studies, Vol. 11, No. 1, (2019): pp. 52–63.
    E. G. Browne, A Catalogue of Persian Manuscripts in the Library of the University of Cambridge, (Cambridge: Cambridge University press, 1896), p. 92, nos. 556–557 [Camb. Or. 188l and King's Pote 161].
    R. Rost and B. Dorn, Catalogue des manuscrits et xylographes orientaux de la Bibliothèque impériale publique de St. Pétersbourg (St. Petersburg: ), p. 275, no. CCLXXXIV.
    H. Ethé, Catalogue of Persian manuscripts in the library of the India Office, Vol. 1 (London: Printed for the India Office by H. Hart, 1903), cols. 613, 619, nos. 1031/4, [IO Islamic 559 and 2506].
    R. Merlin and G. de la Grange, Bibliothèque de M. le Baron Silvestre de Sacy, Vol. III, [Appendice] 'Manuscrits' (Paris: Imprimerie Royale, 1842), p. 50, no. 296.
    G. Ouseley, Biographical notices of Persian poets; with critical and explanatory remarks... (London: Oriental Translation Fund, 1846), pp. 139–142.
    C. Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian manuscripts in the British Museum, Vol. II (London: British Museum, 1879), pp. 640–641 [British Library Add. 23612 &c].
    E. Sachau and H. Ethé, Catalogue of the Persian, Turkish, Hindûstani, and Pushtû manuscripts in the Bodleian Library Vol I. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1889), cols. 601–602, nos. 875–881 [Bodleian Elliot 98–100, &c].

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.