Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 520 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: This complete copy of the Tuḥfat al-Aḥrār (Gift of the Noble) composed by Timurid-era poet ‘Abd al-Raḥmān Jāmī (d. 1492) comprises the fifth of seven books in his collection entitled Haft Awrang (Seven Thrones). A Safavid-era scribe named Muḥammad bin Mullā Mīr al-Ḥusaynī al-Ustādī completed this lavishly illuminated manuscript at the end of Jumādà I 989 (beg. Jul. 1581 CE). It subsequently made its way to volume bears many seal impressions and notations indicating that it was formerly held in the royal library of the Kings of Awadh in Lucknow.
Scribe: Muḥammad bin Mullā Mīr al-Ḥusaynī al-Ustādī;
محمد بن ملا میر الحسینی الاستادی
Incipit: (basmala) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): حامداً لمن جعل جنان کل عارف مخزن اسرار...
Explicit: برگ ۷۸ر (folio 78a): مهر نه خاتمه این خطاب * شد رقم خاتم تم الکتاب.
Colophon: برگ ۷۸ر (folio 78a): تحریراً فی تاریخ اواخر شهر جمادی اول سنه ۹۷۹ کتبه محمد بن ملا میر الحسینی الاستادی غفر ذنبه و ستر عیوبه. میدهد آخر فلکم چون بباد * فاتحه شد عرضم زین سواد.
Colophon: Completed by Muḥammad bin Mullā Mīr al-Ḥusaynī al-Ustādī at the end of Jumādà I 989 (beg. Jul. 1581 CE).
Language(s): Persian

For another copy of this text held in the Rylands see the Haft Awrang (Seven Thrones) Persian MS 949. For a Būstān of Sa‘dī completed by the same scribe in see Cambridge University Library Add. 204. For more on this scribe, see Bayānī.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Textblock of cross-grained, heavily flocked, externally sized and polished, buff-coloured paper, probably handmade in the Safavid Empire, with ~9 laid lines per cm and no discernible chain lines.
Extent: 78 folios, 7 flyleaves (ff. iv + 78 + iii).
Dimensions (leaf): 221 × 136 mm.
Dimensions (written): 149 × 70 mm.
Foliation: Hindu-Arabic numerals added to the upper-left corners of the a sides, with folio 39Aa repeated twice, hence under by one.


Primarily quaterions. 9IV(71)1IV-1(78)Catchwords throughout most of the lower-left corners of the b sides.


In fair condition, with moderate water and insect damage and historical repairs throughout.


Written in 1 to 2 columns with 12 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Written in clear black nasta‘līq with red subheaders by Muḥammad bin Mullā Mīr al-Ḥusaynī al-Ustādī.


Illumination: Folio 1b bears a contemporaneous scalloped domed headpiece with gilt palmette foliate scrollwork on a combination of solid gold and ultramarine grounds, above a rectangular cartouche bearing a stylized shikastah script basmala on a gold ground, and surmounted by nine vertical radiating lines.

Gold spray: Central text finely sprayed with gold ink prior to writing.

Ruling: Margins ruled in gold outlined with thin black single black internal and double external lines, with internal single lines of green verdigris (many corroded and breaking on the inner margins), red, and ultramarine, with comparatively thin internal single gold lines outline by thin black single lines, and all surrounded by single ultramarine lines.

Marginalia: Notes in various hands written between the lines and in the margins.
  • The right flyleaf a side (f. ia) bears the title in nasta‘līq script, probably in the hand of Muhīn Dās, assistant to former owner Colonel George William Hamilton.
  • Folio 1a bears several notations:
    • Top: the title written in naskh script.
    • Middle: Left: ‘81 leaves’, ‘Number 57’, and an undated shikastah inspection note underneath by one Munshī Muḥammad ‘Ali, which probably pertains to Awadh (Oude) royal library: ‘من اهتمام فدوى منشى محمد علي’
    • An unsigned inspection notation dated 5 Rabī‘ I 1262 AH (3 Mar. 1846), probably by an unidentified Awadh royal library attendant to King of Awadh Amjad ‘Alī Shāh, who similary signed other volumes held there.
  • Folio 78b bears a notation next to the seal of Farīdūn Khān (no. 5), hence probably in his hand, in which he describes his purchase of the volume for 150 Rupees from Ḥajjī Khalīl ‘Arab (or Jalīl ‘Arab) on Wednesday, 5 Ẕī-al-Ḥijjah 1153 AH (21 Feb. 1741 CE):
    ‘بتاریخ پنجم ذیالحجة روز چهار شنبه سنه ۱۱۵۳ خجری نبوی بقیمت صد و پنجاه روپیه خرید این از حاجی خلیل عرب با عبارت ازش تومان شب لعینت(؟)’
Bookplates: The left doublure: ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with pencilled shelfmark ‘1/I’, and ‘Hamilton MSS No. 437’, with the name and number crossed out and ‘Persian’ and ‘520’ written aside.


Probably rebound in a hydrid British-Indian style in Multan for former owner George William Hamilton between 1858 and 1862.

Resewn at two stations, unsupported. Edges trimmed, the head coloured black, and chevron endbands of green and red silk threads twined at head and tail. Covered in full maroon-coloured goatskin leather over pasteboards, without a flap but with squares at the edges and defined joints (type III binding per Déroche). Internal doublures lined with the same leather, their excess widths adhered as hinges to the flyleaves to connect the cover to the text, with strips of paper, decoratively cut with zig-zags along one edges, applied over top to disguise the joins.

Board margins painted black with foliate palmette vines, similar to Rylands Persian MS 533, 534, and 539. Title handwritten in nasta‘līq script on the spine within a hand-painted gold cartouche.

228 × 141 × 22 mm.

Binding in fair but stable condition, with blackened upper corners due to water damage and remnants of a paper cover adhered to the interior doublures.

Four vermilion library seal impressions on folio 1a, all intaglio-carved in nasta‘līq script in two stacked lines, of the kings of Awadh (Oude), with three repeated again on 78b, along with a large oval black impression.

1: A large, rare, unidentified rectangular library seal, surmounted by two tigers supporting the crown of Awadh, double-ruled, possibly of Ghazī al-Dīn Ḥaydar Shāh (b. 1769, Nawwab r. 1814–1818; King of Awadh r. 1818–1827), given the date 1237 AH (1821–1822 CE) underneath. It possibly reads:
‘ رونق صد مهر دفاتر ثلثین * مهر کتب خانهٔ شاه زمین، ١٢۳۷’
Rawnaq-i ṣad muhr-i dafātir s̤alas̱īn; muhur-i kitāb khānah-'i Shāh-i zamīn, 1237 hijrī’ (‘The seal of the library of the land is as lustrous as a hundred seals upon thirty volumes, 1237 AH’).
67 × 55 mm.

2: Rectangular library seal of Nāṣir al-Dīn Ḥaydar Shāh (b. 1803, r. 1827–1837), in two stacked cartouches, double-ruled, dated 1244 AH (1828–29 CE), and 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’).
17 × 37 mm.

3: Rectangular library seal, surmounted by the royal emblem of Awadh, of Amjad ‘Alī Shāh (b. 1801, r. 1842–1847), dotted-ruled and 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’).
53 × 45 mm.

4: Library seal, surmounted by the royal emblem Awadh, of Wājid ‘Alī Shāh (b. 1822, r. 1847–1856), single-ruled and dated 1262 AH (1847 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’).
41 × 26 mm.

5:A large black oval seal impression, intaglio-carved in three stacked lines read from bottom upwards, double-ruled, of a former owner or associate named Farīdūn Khān dated ‘regnal year 13 [of Muḥammad Shāh] (1144 AH/1731–1732 CE)’:
‘فریدون خان خان زاد بادشاه محمد شاه غزی سنه ۱۳’
32 × 44 mm.


Origin: Probably completed by Muḥammad bin Mullā Mīr al-Ḥusaynī al-Ustādī in the Safavid Empire; end of Jumādà I 989 (beg. Jul. 1581 CE) AH.

Provenance and Acquisition

Probably purchased by Farīdūn Khān for 150 Rupees from Ḥajjī Khalīl ‘Arab (or Jalīl ‘Arab) on Wednesday, 5 Ẕī-al-Ḥijjah 1153 AH (21 Feb. 1741 CE), as per a note adjacent to his seal impression on folio 78b.

Previously held in the royal library of Awadh in Awadh (Oude), as indicated by dated library notations on folios 1a and 78b, together with seal impressions of the Kings of Awadh Nāṣir al-Dīn Ḥaydar Shāh (b. 1803, r. 1827–1837), Muḥammad ‘Alī Shāh (b. 1777, r. 1837–1842), Amjad ‘Alī Shāh (b. 1801, r. 1842–1847), and Wājid ‘Alī Shāh (b. 1822, r. 1847–1856), then presumably looted during India's First War of Independence, when British soldiers ransacked the Qaisarbagh palace and library on 15 March 1858 (see Wolseley's memoir).

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 purchased 352 from his widow, Charlotte Logie Hamilton (1817–1893), now held in the British Library.

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

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, Manchester.

Record Sources

Bibliographical description based on an index created by Reza Navabpour circa 1993, derived from a manuscript catalogue by Michael Kerney, circa 1890s, concisely published as Bibliotheca Lindesiana, Hand-list of Oriental Manuscripts: Arabic, Persian, Turkish, 1898.

Manuscript description by Jake Benson in 2023 with reference to the manuscript in hand.


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.


    Mahdī Bayānī, Aḥvāl va Ās̱ār-i Khvushnivīsān, Vol. 3 (Tehran: University of Tehran Press, 1348 SH [1970 CE]), pp. 840–841, no. 1247.
    P. Losensky, 'Jāmi i. Life and Works’', Encyclopædia Iranica, Vol. XIV, Fasc. 5 (2008), pp. 469-475 .
    Charles Rathbone Low, A Memoir of Lieutenant-General Sir Garnet J. Wolseley (London: R. Bentley, 1878), pp. 168–169.

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute

The Persian Heritage Foundation


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