Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 51 (The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts

An album of paintings and calligraphic specimens.

Contents

Summary of Contents: This album features two Persian and Arabic calligraphy specimens, a painting attributed to Kishangarh, two composite drawings, and a fragment of a folio detached from a historical Persian work, all probably from India. The final folio bears the seal impression of Sir Elijah Impey (1732–1809), hence the others may also possibly be from his collection, although reassembled into its present state and rebound in an Ottoman-style silk brocade for a subsequent owner.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Extent: 6 folios, 2 flyleaves (ff. i + 6 + i).
Dimensions (leaf): 369 × 255 mm.
Additions:
Inscription:
  • The Arabic numeral ‘614’ written on the left flyleaf a side (f. ia) may represent a prior owner's inventory number or an unidentified bookseller's listing.
Bookplates:
  • Left pastedown: ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with shelfmark ‘F/3’, ‘Bland MSS No. 61’.

Binding

Pamphlet-stitched through a textile spine lining, lined with three rectangular strips of paper. Case-bound in full, green silk brocade, with Ottoman-style, serrated saz leaf decoration Endpapers of brilliant pink, early-19th century, coated 'surface' wove paper, applied to one side only.

Dimensions: 371 × 257 × 10 mm.

Binding in good condition.

History

Origin: At least the final folio 3b, and possibly others, detached from an album assembled in Calcutta (Kolkata); for or, acquired by Sir Elijah Impey (1732–1809) between 1774 to 1783 CE, as per his seal impression on 3b. Impey served as the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Judicature at Fort William in Calcutta (Kolkata), where he amassed a considerable collection.

Provenance and Acquisition

After Impey's death, the London firm of Harry Phillips (d. 1840) sold his collection 21 May 1810; however, others in India also acquired albums and folios from him both prior to and possibly after his return to Britain, so whether this volume sold at that sale, possibly separated from a larger one, remains unclear.

Subsequently acquired by Methodist minister Rev. Adam Clarke (1762–1832), after whose death his son Jospeh Butterworth Bulmer Clarke (d. 1855) inherited the volume and describes its present state in a catalogue published in 1835.

The next year on 20 June 1836, Clarke's son auctioned his father's collection through the London firm of Sotheby & Son where bookseller William Straker purchased it for £4-4s.

Probably sold by Straker to Persian scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865), after whose death, London bookseller Bernard Quaritch (1819–1899) sold his oriental manuscripts 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.

Persian MS 51A

Contents

Summary of Contents: This unsigned excerpt of a ghazal by the poet Ḥāfiẓ, copied as a formal oblique (chālīpā) calligraphy specimen (qiṭ‘ah), bears a spurious attribution to Muḥammad Ḥusayn Kashmīrī Zarrīn Qalam (d. ca. 1611–1612).
Folio 1a
Author and Contributor: Ḥāfiẓ, fl. 14th century
Incipit: (beginning) خیز و در کاسه زر آب طربناک انداز * پیشتر زان که شود کاسه سر خاک انداز
Explicit: چون گل از نکهت او جامه قبا کن حافظ * وین قبا در ره آن قامت چالاک انداز
Colophon: No colophon
Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Support: Central calligraphy written on a buff-coloured paper, decorated with a fine spray of pale brown spatter, sized and polished. Adhered to stacked, triple 'post-and-lintel' mounts comprised of white interior, salmon intermediate, and blue exterior unsized and unpolished strips of papers, all probably handmade in India. Intermediate Mount: 275 × 147 mm. Interior Mount: 223 × 98 mm. Calligraphy: 198 × 74 mm.

Layout

Written in 1 column with 6 lines. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.

Hand(s)

Written in nasta‘liq script in black.

Decoration

Line Fill: Each line outlined with surrounding cloud bands in gold, with the intervening ground fully gilt.

Border: The inner mount bears a gilt vegetal scrollwork vine.

Ruling: The central composition and surrounding mounts bear marginal ruling in gold outlined in black, white, and yellow

Additions:
Inscription: Although unsigned, a hastily written caption underneath spuriously identifies the scribe as Muḥammad Ḥusayn Kashmīrī (d. ca. 1611–1612), a leading scribe at the court of the Mughal rulers Akbar (b. 1542 r. 1556–1605 and Jahangīr (b. 1569, r. 1605–1627).

Persian MS 51B

Contents

Summary of Contents: This vivid and finely rendered composite drawing, probably Deccani, features a winged parī astride a horse as she gallops across a landscape with swirling clouds in the skyline.
Folio 1b
Language(s): None

The Hindu-Arabic number ‘35’ inscribed on the upper-right corner appears to be a folio number, which indicates that someone detached it from another album and remounted it into this one. The son of former owner Rev. Adam Clarke (1762–1832), Jospeh Butterworth Bulmer Clarke, reproduced this image as plate VII in his catalogue. For similar examples, see Victoria and Albert Museum (AL.9281A), and British Library, (Johnson 12,1), the latter published by Falk and Archer.

References

R. Del Bonta, 'Indian Composite Paintings: A Playful Art', Orientations Vol. 27, No.1 (1996): pp. 31–38.
R. Del Bonta, 'Reinventing Nature: Mugha Composite Animal Painting', Flora and Fauna in Mughal Art (Marg Vol. 50, no. 3) Edited by S. P. Verma (Mumbai: Marg Publications on behalf of the National Centre for the Performing Arts1999): pp. 69–82.
T. Falk and M. Archer, Indian miniatures in the India Office Library (London: Sotheby Parke Bernet, 1981), pp. 125, 428, no. 207.
S. Ghosh, 'Composite paintings – portrayal of the surreal and fantastic in Indian art' International Journal of Creative Research Thoughts, Vol. 9, No. 12 (Dec. 2021): pp. 314–319
B. Schmitz Islamic and Indian Manuscripts and Paintings in the Pierpont Morgan Library (New York: Pierpont Morgan Library1996): p. 158, cat. 50, pl. 36.

Physical Description

Support: Central drawing set upon stacked, double 'post-and-lintel' mounts comprised of interior salmon and exterior ochre strips of papers, probably handmade in India, unsized and unpolished. Interior Mount: 179 × 183 mm. Painting: 164 × 164 mm.

Decoration

Painting: The main subject wears a Chagatai-style headress and gilt bodice trimmed with pearls, and a golden sash that terminates in dragon's heads, with her horse filled with a profusion of animals and an ascetic figure, accompanied by a hound in the foreground, infilled in the same fashion. While the overall composition varies from depictions of parīs astride composite animals, this specific work also seems partly inspired by equestrian portraits of Chand Bībī (1550–1599), a late 16th-century regent of the deccan Sultanates of Bijapur and Ahmadnagar, famous for her defense of the latter. Only here the artist altered those compositions by replacing a hawk that she often holds in her hand with a spear, and adding wings upon her back. A very similar composition appears in the Morgan Library and Museum, in the centre of a folio within the Read Mughal Album (MS M.458.14). See Schmitz catalogue.

Ruling: The central composition and surrounding mounts bear marginal ruling in gold outlined in black, white, and yellow.

Persian MS 51C

Contents

Summary of Contents: This lively scene, brightly rendered in the style of Kishangarh, features a group of mercenaries, while two musicians at top entertain a lady waited upon by an attendant to the upper-right, probably dates to circa 1720 to 1740.
Folio 2a
Language(s): None

The Hindu-Arabic numeral ‘38’ inscribed on the upper-right corner appears to be a folio number, in a hand that differs from the above, indicating that someone detached this folio from another album and remounted it into this one.

References

H. Ethé, Catalogue of the Persian, Turkish, Hindûstani, and Pushtû manuscripts in the Bodleian Library Vol. II (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1930), cols. 1327–1328, no. (2066) 2381 [Bodl. Douce Or. b 2].
N. Haidar, 'Satire and Humour in Kishangarh Painting' Court Painting in Rajasthan (Marg Vol. 51, no. 3) Edited by A. Topsfield (Mumbai: Marg Publications on behalf of the National Centre for the Performing Arts2000): pp. 78–91.
N. Haidar, 'The Kishangarh school of painting, c.1680-1850' PhD. Dissertation Oxford: university of Oxford1996.
E. Sachau and H. Ethé, Catalogue of the Persian, Turkish, Hindûstani, and Pushtû manuscripts in the Bodleian Library Vol I. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1889), col. 1088, no. 1893 [Bodl. Ouseley Add. 166].
Sotheby's, London, The Stuart Cary Welch Collection. Part Two: Arts of the Islamic World, Sale L11228 (31 May 2011), Lot 18.

Physical Description

Support: Painting adhered perpendicular to the gutter upon a single stacked, single 'post-and-lintel' exterior mount comprised of salmon-coloured strips of unsized and unburnished papers, probably handmade in India, unsized and unpolished. Painting: 235 × 355 mm.

Decoration

Painting: The figures in the foreground of this scene appear in another album, rendered by a different artist, formerly owned by Sir Gore Ouseley (1770–1844) in the Bodleian Library (Ms Ouseley Add. 166, f. [42]r). It also stylistically comports with another scene in an album also formerly owned by Sir Elijah Impey held in the Bodleian (MS. Douce Or. a. 3, f. 25r). Another similar satirical painting of a group of mercenaries formerly owned by Stuart Cary Welch sold at Sotheby's, London on 31 May 2011.

Ruling: Marginal ruling surrounds the central composition in gold outlined in black.

Persian MS 51D

Contents

Summary of Contents: This unsigned Arabic micrography composition features an extract of the Qur'ān Sūrah al-Ṣaf (‘The Ranks’ 61:13), written in bold bright yellow Indian style naskh script infilled with further sura selections written in ghubār (dust) script.
Folio 2b
Language(s): Arabic

excerpted from Sūrah al-Ṣaf (61:13) infilled with micrographic Qur'anic passages.

References

A. Gacek, Arabic Manuscripts: A Vademecum for Readers (Leiden: Brill, 2012), pp. 47, 113, fig. 46

Physical Description

Support: Central calligraphy written on a flocked, butter-coloured sized and polished paper and adhered perpendicular to the gutter upon stacked, double 'post-and-lintel' mounts comprised of interior green and exterior salmon-coloured strips of unsized and unburnished papers, all probably handmade in India. Interior Mount: 230 × 170 mm. Calligraphy: 193 × 135 mm.

Hand(s)

The main calligraphy composition written in yellow naskh script.

Decoration

Micrography: The main calligraphy composition infilled with various Qur'ān verses written in blackghubār script.

Line Fill: Each line outlined with surrounding cloud bands in gold, with the intervening ground fully gilt.

Border: The inner mount bears a gilt vegetal scrollwork vine.

Ruling: The central composition inner mount ruled in gold outlined in thin black.

Additions:
Inscriptions:
  • The main verse excerpt quoted in Arabic on the fore-edge: ‘نصر من أللّه والفتح قريب’ (Naṣr min Allāh wa-al-Fatḥ Qarīb, '[with] aid from God, a speedy victory').
  • Minute Arabic numerals, probably in the hand of former owner Rev. Adam Clarke , attempt to identify various micrographic passages within the main composition; however, since he misidentified the main composition as a verse from Sūrah al-Fatḥ (110) instead of Sūrah al-Ṣaf (61:13) the accuracy of the other verses await confirmation.

Persian MS 51E

Contents

Summary of Contents: This second composite drawing features a young Mughal prince astride an elephant infilled with nine women, Naw Nārī Kunjar.
Folio 3a
Language(s): None

The Hindu-Arabic number ‘35’ inscribed on the upper-right corner appears to be a folio number, which indicates that someone detached it from another album and remounted it into this one.

References

R. Del Bonta, 'Revinventing Nature', p. 76 fig. 8 (see 51B above).
S. Ghosh 'Composite Paintings', fig. 5 (see 51B above).
F. Parkes, Wanderings of a Pilgrim in Search of the Picturesque: During Four-and-Twenty Years in the East : with Revelations of Life in the Zenāna., Vol. II (London: Pelham Richardson, 1850), pp. 121, frontispiece, pl. 32.

Physical Description

Support: Central drawing set upon stacked, double mounts comprised of interior tan-coloured 'post-and-lintel' format strips over an exterior full sheet of blue decorated with tarnished silver flecks, with an additional strip of the same applied paper applied to the head, all probably handmade in India. Interior Mount: 240 × 175 mm. Drawing: 207 × 142 mm.

Decoration

Drawing: Many variations of Nārī Kunjar composite drawings featuring women within elephants survive from throughout the subcontinent. This one recalls a possibly late-17th-century Deccani example held in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1985.247), another in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco (1988.15.11, see Del Bonta), as well as later Hindu-themed versions that feature Krishna astride a composite elephant filled with Gopis, including one example, possibly completed in Lucknow, preserved in the Victoria and Albert Museum (IM.22-1916), another likely completed in Rajasthan in the Academy of Fine Arts and Literature New Delhi (see Ghosh, fig. 5), and two reproduced as the frontispiece and pl. 32 by F. Parkes. Similar compositions also inspired two versions of a painting entitled Parade of the Sons of Shah Jahan on Composite Horses and Elephants by Dutch painter Willem Schellinks (1627–1678), held in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (IS.30-1892) and Musée du Guimet, Paris (MA 1090).

Ruling> Central composition and inner mount ruled in gold outlined in thin black, with an added single line of white surrounding the latter.

Additions:
Inscriptions:
  • Captions at top identify the composition as captioned ‘جادو جمشید’, ‘Jādū-i Jamshīd’ (‘Enchantment of Jamshīd’), also transliterated in Latin script, along with with an illegible shikastah inscription at upper-right.
  • Another caption at the the bottom in nasta‘līq possibly reads ‘کشن چو سواری بر نو ناری کنجر’, (‘Kishan Jiv [Krishna] riding upon an elephant of nine women’).

Persian MS 51F

Contents

Summary of Contents: A mounted fragment of a manuscript folio detached from an unidentified ornate Persian prose historical account features a passage regarding a battle.
Folio 3b
Incipit: (beginning) ...قریب فوج منضور شده بود عقب عفیه رسید کافران مقهور بار دیگر جمع آمدهٔ خانمذکور حمله آور گشته مومی الیه پای شاب قرار استوار ساخته جنگ عظیم در انداخته داد
Language(s): Persian

Folio fragment.

Physical Description

Support: Central text written upon an ivoury-coloured paper, decorated with finely sprayed silver, now tarnished, adhered to stacked, double mounts upon stacked, double mounts comprised of interior blue-coloured 'post-and-lintel' format strips applied to an exterior, full sheet of red gold-flecked papers, all probably handmade in India. Interior Mount: 226 × 117 mm. Fragment: 190 × 81 mm.

Layout

Written in 1 column with 5 lines

Hand(s)

Written in refined black nasta‘līq.

Decoration

Ruling: The interior mount ruled in gold outlined in single and double lines in thin black, surrounded by a single line in white, probably lead as areas now appear gray.

Additions:
Inscription: A caption at top gives the name ‘Navvāb Muẓẓafar Jang’, a title bestowed upon several historical provincial governors in India; however, precisely which one awaits identification.
Seal(s):

An illegible, rectangular partial seal impression at bottom, intaglio carved in nasta‘līq script in two stacked lines, double-ruled, of former owner Sir Elijah Impey (1732–1809), dated 1775, along with a regnal year 16 of George III, King of Great Britain (b. 1738, r. 1760–1820) reads from the bottom up: سر ایلاجه ایمپی چیف جستس سنه ۱۶، ۱۷۷۵ (Sir Īlāhah Īmpī Chīf Justis, sanah 16, 1775). Dimensions: 19 × 26 mm.

Additional Information

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 2022 with reference to the volume in hand, and in consultation with Dr. Robert Del Bonta Museum of Asian Art, and Friederike Weis, Museum für Asiatische Kunst, regarding the composite drawings (51B and E), Dr. Navina Najat Haidar, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Parmjit Singh, Kashi House Publishing, regarding the Kishangarh painting (51C), Prof. Sunil Sharma, Boston University, concerning the Persian caption under the second composite drawing (51E), and Ursula Sims-Williams regarding Impey's seal impression (51F).

Availability

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.

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).

Bibliography

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation and The John Rylands Research Institute


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