Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 54 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: This complete copy of the Taẕkirat al-Shuʻarā (Chronicles of Poets) by Dawlatshāh Samarqandī (d. ca. 1494) contains biographical accounts of some 150 poets, together with selections of their poems. The author, from a ruling Timurid-era elite family, dedicated this work to the cultural and political figure Mīr ‘Alī Shīr Navā'ī (d. 1501). A scribe named Muḥammad Amān copied this manuscript, apparently in India, for a patron named Shaykh Niẓām al-Dīn Aḥmad Bilgrāmī ‘Uthmānī in 13 Rajab 1162 AH (29 June 1749 CE).
Incipit: برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): تحمیدی که شاهباز بلند پرواز اندیشه بساخت فضای آن پرواز نتواند نمود.
Explicit: برگ ۱۸۲ر (folio 182ab): مگر صاحبدلی روزی برحمت کند بر حال این مسکین دعایی.
Colophon: برگ ۱۸۲ر (folio 182ab): .الحمد لله والمنیبه که این کتاب مستطاب تذکره الشعرا من تالیف دولتشاه علا والد د له بختی شاه رحمتهما الله تعالی داد بتاریخ سیزده ۱۳ رجب المرجب فی سنه ۱۱۶۲ اثنی و ستین و مایه و الف من هجرت محمد مصطفی صلی الله علیه و اله و اصحابه و سلم مطابق سنه ۲ جلوس احمد شاه بادشاه غازی خلد الله ملکه و سلطنت حسب خواستن شیخ نظام الدین احمد بلگرامی عثمانی بید اضعاف العباد محمد اما صورت اختتام یافت
Colophon: Completed by Muḥammad Amān on 13 Rajab 1162 AH (29 June 1749 CE), in the second year of the reign of the Mughal ruler Emperor Aḥmad Shāh Bahādur, for Shaykh Niẓām al-Dīn Aḥmad Bilgrāmī ‘Uthmānī.
Language(s): Persian

Probably one of the four copies formerly owned by Sir Gore Ouseley, who repeatedly refers to it in his essay on Persian poets, as does former owner Nathaniel Bland in his seminal essay on chronicles of poets. For other copies in the Rylands collections, see Persian MS 309, 310, and 838.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Text block comprised of medium-weight, cross-grained, cream-coloured paper probably manufactured in the Indian subcontinent.
Extent: 182 folios, 10 flyleaves (ff. iv + 182 + vi).
Dimensions (leaf): 235 × 160 mm.
Dimensions (written): 190 × 120 mm.

Foliation marked at top-left of the a sides in Hindu-Arabic numerals starting on folio 9.


Undetermined. Catchwords irregularly marked.


Handle with caution. Insect damage at the beginning and final 20 pages remain unrepaired.


Written in 1 column with 17 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Copied by Muḥammad Amān in neat nasta'liq script with occasional shikastah ligatures in black with headers and verse markers in red.

  • Glosses, comments and emendations in Persian throughout.
  • Pencilled notations in English, probably in the hand of former owner Nathaniel Bland.
  • Folio 1a bears a note in English, probably in the hand of Sir Gore Ouseley: ‘No 28. ‘Memoirs of the Poets’ by Doulat Shah Samarkandi transcribed by Muhammed Aman AH 1162 – A.D. 1749.’
  • Folio 1b, top bears a caricatured image of a sea monster in black ink, that someone evidently sketched to obscure an earlier inscription, probably the signature of a former owner.
  • Final flyleaf a side: ‘Bland MSS No. 64’.
  • Final flyleaf b side: ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with shelf mark ‘2/F’.


Bound with ornate, painted lacquer pasteboard covers that appear contemporary with the manuscript, then apparently later restored for former owner Sir Gore Ouseley. Resewn on three sunken cords, with flyleaves of European heavy-weight, flocked, gray-coloured paper, ivory-coloured added. Edges trimmed and spattered in fine blue, with European-style front-bead decorative endbands sewn over a flat core. The binder laced the cords into the original boards, then rebacked the spine in calf leather, hollow-backed, with internal calfskin leather hinges put down upon the flyleaves to reconnect the textblock.

Board exteriors painted with elaborate floral bouquets on grounds that contains iridescent, finely ground mica or nacre particles. The internal doublures feature a central narcissuses, with floral garlands underneath, and butterflies on either side, painted on red grounds. The rebacked spine tooled with a foliate decorative roll on the exterior in gold, with a floriate decorative roll in blind on the interior hinges.

254 × 173 × 33 mm.

Handle binding with caution. Lacquer delaminating along the outer edges of the boards, with the corners exposed. Boxed.


Origin: Possibly Bilgram, India; completed on 13 Rajab 1162 AH (29 June 1749 CE) for Shaykh Niẓām al-Dīn Aḥmad Bilgrāmī ‘Uthmānī

Provenance and Acquisition

Probably one of four copied formerly owned by Sir Gore Ouseley as per an unsigned inscription on folio 1a that comports with his hand.

Later acquired by scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865), after whose 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 James White in 2017 with reference to the volume in hand.

Record further amended and enhanced by Jake Benson in 2021 with reference to the manuscript.


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)


Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute

The Soudavar Memorial Foundation


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.