Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 53 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts

This brief, undated illustrated manuscript, probably completed in 18th-century India, contains two poetic works, one written in the centre of the folios, with a second in the margins.


Summary of Contents: The Pandnāmah (Book of Advice) spuriously attributed to Saʻdī (d. 1292) appears in the centres of the pages, with another poem entitled Maḥmūdnāmah (Book of Maḥmūd) written in the surrounding margins. Together, they comprise two of five titles frequently found in a collection popularly known as the Panj Ganj (Five Treasures) or Panj Kitābpredominantly employed in traditional schools in Central Asia, Afghanistan, and India, with many variant manuscripts and editions in circulation. The first work concerns moral advice and etiquette, while the second features romantic poems arranged in alphabetic order attributed to one Muḥammad Maḥmūd Lāhūrī (937–1008 AH/1530–1600 CE), inspired by stories of Sulṭān Maḥmud Ghaznavī (b. 971, r. 998–1030) and his beloved servant Ayāz found in earlier works.
1. folios 2b-14a
Author and Dubious author: Saʻdī سعدى
Title: Karīmā
Title: کریما
Incipit: (basmalla) برگ ۲پ (folio 1b): کریما به بخشای بر حال ما * که هستیم اسیر کمند هوا
Explicit: برگ ۱۴ر (folio 14a): منه دل برین دهر ناپایدار * ز سعدی همین یک سخن یاد دار
Colophon: No colophon.

The final two lines differ from the 1788 edition of Francis Gladwin (1744/5–1812) as does the final word in Arthur Wollaston's (1842–1922) 1908 version, as noted by G. M. Wickens (1918–2006) in the introduction to his translation.

Language(s): Persian


Francis Gladwin, "The Pundnameh of Sady" in The Persian Moonshee. (Calcutta: Chronicle Press, 1795), pp. 101–142.
‘Ārif Nawshāhī, Fihrist-i Nuskha'hā-yi Khaṭṭī-yi Fārsī-yi Pākistān (Fihrist-i 8000 Nuskha-yi Khatti-yi Kitabkhānah'hā-yi Shakhsī va Dawlatī), Vol. 3 (Tehran: Mīrās̱-i Maktūb, 1396 SH [2017 CE]), pp. 1786–1788.
M. H. Razvi and M. H. Qaisar, Catalogue of Manuscripts in the Maulana Azad Library, Vol. V, pt. i: Poetry. (Aligarh: Aligarh Muslim University, 1981), pp. 49–50, no. 67.
Charles Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the British Museum, Vol. II. (London: British Museum, 1879), p. 865b.
G. M. Wickens, 'Sadi's Pandnama: A New English Version with Notes', in Annals of Oriental Research (Madras), Centenary Issue, Vol. 13. (1957): pp. 1–26.
2. folios 2b-13a
Incipit: (basmalla) برگ ۲پ (folio 2b): ایداغ بر دل از غم خال تو لاله را * شرمنده ساخت آهوی چشمت غزاله را
Explicit: برگ ۱۳ر (folio 13a): يافته محمودهركس بردرآن شاه بار * اين گدارا هم برآن دربار بودی كاشكی
Colophon: برگ ۱۳ر (folio 13a): تمت تمام شد محمودنامه تحریر یافت.

For English translation of select passages and their relation to earlier poetical works, see Kugle's essay.

Language(s): Persian


Scott Kugle 'Sultan Mahmud's Makeover: Colonial Homophobia and the Persian-Urdu Literacy Tradition', Queering India: Same-Sex Love and Eroticism in Indian Culture and Society. Edited by Ruth Vanita. (New York: Routledge, 2002), pp. 35–37, 45 n11–15.
‘Ārif Nawshāhī, Fihrist-i Nuskha'hā-yi Khaṭṭī-yi Fārsī-yi Pākistān (Fihrist-i 8000 Nuskha-yi Khatti-yi Kitabkhānah'hā-yi Shakhsī va Dawlatī), Vol. 3 (Tehran: Mīrās̱-i Maktūb, 1396 SH [2017 CE]), pp. 1924–1927.

Physical Description

Form: codex

Text block comprised of lightly sized and polished, straight-grained, ivory-coloured paper handmade in India.

Extent: 15 folios, two flyleaves (ff. i + 15 + i) (text on folios 2b to 14a).
Dimensions (leaf): 212 × 144 mm.
Dimensions (written): 135 × 88 mm.

Modern pencilled Arabic numerals include the original first and last flyleaves, followed for this record


1I+1(4)1IV(12)1I(14). Catchwords on b side of nearly every folio.


Handle with caution. In fragile condition. Gutters and lower margins water damaged then subsequently repaired. Breaks in the marginal ruling in the gutter margins on folios 5a to 6b, 8a to 11b, and 13a–b resulting from green verdigris corrosion.


Written in 2 columns with 11 lines in the centre of the page, with the second text written in 24 lines in the surrounding margins (35 lines total). Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Written by an unknown hand in hasty but legible nasta‘līq in black with subheaders in red.


Hastily rendered on 2a.

Thin black cloud bands surrounding the lines, with hastily applied gold wash throughout.

Four illustrations rendered in possibly Pahari or Kashmiri style, including two depictions of a ruler loosely recall portraits of the ruler Nādir Shāh (b. 1688, r. 1736–1747), who invaded the Mughal empire and sacked its capital Delhi in 1739, which may here depict Sulṭān Maḥmud Ghaznavī and his beloved servant Ayāz:

  • Folio 2b: the creature al-Buraq flies in the heavens with two angels. 82 × 78 mm.
  • Folio 6b: a ruler enthroned on the right faces two courtiers and guard on the left. 77 × 80 mm.
  • Folio 7b: a ruler enthroned on the left faces two courtiers and guard on the right. 83 × 80 mm.
  • Folio 10a: an unconsciousness, drunken man lies down, usupported by an attendant to his left, while another on the right offers him a draught. 74 × 78 mm.

  • Folio 1b bears a pencilled Persian hemistich written in an amateur hand, probably that of a young student:

    ‘ترا من خیلی دوست می دارم’

  • Left pastedown: ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ bookplates, the latter with the shelf mark ‘1/A’, and ‘Bland MSS No. 402’.


Resewn at four stations. Endpapers of peach-coloured French mould-made paper watermarked ‘MICHALLET’ on the final left flyleaf onto the left pastedown, sold by a Parisian firm founded by Pancrace Michallet in circa 1850. Covered in a semi-limp binding of full maroon goaskin leather.

233 × 144 × 5 mm.

Handle with caution. Binding in fair condition, with the text block partly detached from the cover.


Origin: Probably India; undated, but likely late 18th to early 19th century CE.

Provenance and Acquisition

Formerly part of the collection of Persian scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865), after whose death London antiquarian dealer 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 concisely published as Bibliotheca Lindesiana, Hand-list of Oriental Manuscripts: Arabic, Persian, Turkish in 1898.

Manuscript description by Jake Benson in 2022 with reference to the volume in hand, and in consultation with Dr. Mahmood Alam regaring the inscription on the flyleaf and Dr. Fabienne Ruppen, Städel Museum, regarding the Michallet firm, culled from research conducted by André Louis (1960–2019).


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.

Digital Images

Manchester Digital Collections (full digital facsimile)


    Louis André, ‘Les papiers à dessin au XIXe et au XXe siècle’ in Le papier à l'œuvre (Paris: Louvre 2011), pp. 88–89.
    Benedek Péri, Mojdeh Mohammadi, and Miklós Sárközy, Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Leiden: Brill, 2018), pp. 36–37, no. 10 [Perzsa O. 070].
    M. Nazif Sharani, 'Local Knowledge of Islam and Social Discourse in Afghanistan and Turkistan in the Modern Period', Turko-Persia in Historical Perspective. Edited by Robert Canfield. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), pp. 171–172, 185 n10.

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute


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