Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 55 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: Khulāṣat al-ash‘ār (Abridgment of Poems), an anthology of lyric poetry quatrains culled from the works of roughly forty poets who lived between the 11th–15th centuries CE. A scribe named Muḥammad Kātib al-Lārī completed this manuscript, possibly in Shiraz, between 938–39 AH (1531–33 CE). This volume features eight double-page illustrations, illuminated headers, and numerous tinted, spray-painted, and decorated papers, as well as many alterations, later embellishments, mounted cut paper découpage compositions, and calligraphy specimens.
Author and Compiler: Anonymous

The compiler of the table of contents on folios 7b states that compilation of this volume occured during the lifetime of Timurid nobleman Mīr ʿAlīshīr Navā'ī (1441–1501), hence Michael Kerney and B. W. Robinson misidentify the work as Navā'ī's Majālis al-Nafā'is in their catalogues. However, the correct title omitting an attribution to Navā'ī appears in the 1843 catalogue of former owner John Staples Harriott, and Reza Navabpour also clarifies this discrepancy in his index. D.N. Marshall also misidentifies the text as the ninth chapter on living poets appended by Fakhrī Haravī to his translation of Navā'ī's work, Laṭā'ifnāmah. The title of the work Khulāṣat al-Ash‘ār appears on folio 10b, and on folio 7a.

Incipit: برگ ۹پ (folio 9b): .بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم * مطلع انوار كتاب كريم. مخزن اسرار الهيست اين * که هر گنج شایسته هست این
Explicit: برگ ۲۳۳ر (folio 233a): کو هیج ذکر مناثین(؟) چون مست غمت * چون هست غمت ذکر چه غم دارم من.
Colophon: برگ ۱۱ر (folio 11a): تاریخ تالیف: چو طبعم برین جمع الهام یافت * بتاریخ «فرخنده» تمام یافت.
Colophon: برگ ۲۳۳ر (folio 233a): تم بالخیر کتبه العبد الفقیر محمد کاتب اللاری سنة ثمان وثلاثين وتسعماية
Colophon: ًWhile the scribe Muḥammad Kātib al-Lārī declares on folio 233a that he completed the volume on 938 AH (1531–32 CE), the subsequent year 939 AH (1532–33 CE) curiously appears in the margin of folio 11a as indicated in a couplet containing the word farkhunda (auspicious) and also written in Hindu-Arabic numerals in red underneath.
Language(s): Persian
Title: Introduction
Author and Contributor: Qāsim Anvār, 1356–1433
Author and Contributor: Sa‘dī

Both catchwords (C) and textual disorder (T) indicate extensive alteration to this section, and that one or more folios are missing after after 28b (C), 28b (C), 31b (C&T), 34b(C&T), 37b(C&T), and 42b (C&T)


Folios disrupted, missing, or misplaced at the beginning and end, folios 46b 74b.

Author and Contributor: ʻIrāqī, d. ca. 1289

The Table of Contents omits the name of this poet, likely due to the lack of an illuminated heading, which also indicates that at least one preceding folio appears missing.

Author and Contributor: Awḥādī, -1289?

Folio(s) missing after 78b.


This Table of Contents omits this poet's name.

Author and Contributor: Davvānī, ca. 1426–1513

Table of contents includes the name of the poet 'Ghazzalī' albeit without any of his poems in the MS. The compiler may have misinterpreted the Persian term 'ghazal' (a gazelle) in Jaml’s poem on 106b.

Author and Contributor: Kamāl Khujandī, d. ca. 1400

The ending appears incomplete, which suggests folios missing thereafter.


The Table of Contents notes the imperfect beginning, but the end appears defective as well, which suggests both preceding and succeeding folios now missing.

Author and Contributor: Salmān Savajī, d. 1376

Imperfect at the beginning, hence prior folios missing.

Author and Contributor: Katibī Turshīzī, d. ca. 1434

Imperfect at the beginning, hence prior folios missing.

Author and Contributor: Aẕarī Isfarāyinī, d. ca. 1434

Imperfect at the beginning, hence prior folios missing.

Author and Contributor: Mīr Maghribī, d. ca. 1434

Name omitted in the Table of Contents.

Author and Contributor: Nasīmī, ca. 1369–1418
Author and Contributor: Amīr Shāhī Sabzavārī, d. 1453

Folio 145b blank.

Author and Contributor: ʻIṣmat Bukhārāʼī, d. ca. 1437
Author and Contributor: Amīr Sayfī, d. ca. 1465

While the header appears on 152b, the text commences on 153a.

Author and Contributor: Riyāz̤ī Samarqandī, d. ca. 1480
Author and Contributor: Āṣafī Haravī, d. ca. 1480
Author and Contributor: Vaysī Haravī, fl. 15th cent.
Author and Contributor: Hilālī, d. ca. 1528

catchword on f. 160 missing due to repair. The poem seems to conclude; however their alphabetical arrangement suggests at least one or more folios are missing.

Author and Contributor: Amir Naṣībī Yazdi, d. ca. 1509
Author and Contributor: Bābā Faghānī Shīrāzī, d. 1519
Author and Contributor: Amīr Humāyūn
Author and Contributor: Shahidī, 1470-1550
Author and Contributor: Ahlī Shīrazī, d. ca. 1536
Author and Contributor: Mavalī Tūnī, d. ca. 1542
Author and Contributor: Muḥyī Lārī, d. 1526 or 7
Author and Contributor: Fidāʼī, d. 1521,
Author and Contributor: Qāz̤ī ʻĪsá Sāvajī, d. 1491
Author and Contributor: Manī Mashhadī, d. ca. 1508
Author and Contributor: Mu'īnī Juvaynī, d. ca. 1381

The end of the last poem on folio 208b appears incomplete, followed by a new poem thereafter, so folios may be missing, even though the catchword comports.

Author and Contributor: Niyāzī

The poet awaits identification, but he may possibly be early Ottoman poet Aḥmad Niyāzī. The last poem on folio 210b continues on 226a, due to displacement when restored.

Author and Contributor: Bannā'ī, d. ca. 1513

Lacks the beginning due to missing folio(s), including the initial illuminated heading

Author and Contributor: Fardī

The poet awaits identification, but he may possibly be Fardī Ardabīlī, .

Author and Contributor: Ahlī Turshīzī, d. ca. 1528

The lacks of an illuminated heading for this poet suggests that initial folios may be missing.

Author and Contributor: ‘Umar Khayyām, d. ca. 1123
Author and Contributor: Bābā Afz̤al, fl. 13th cent.

Since folio 221b lacks a catchword, whether Afz̤al composed the succeeding poems awaits confirmation.


Since folios 222b to 225b lack catchwords, whether Aṭṭār composed the succeeding poems awaits confirmation.


Since folios 222b to 225b lack catchwords, whether Aṭṭār composed the succeeding poems awaits confirmation.

Author and Contributor: Sa’idī

This poet awaits identification.

Author and Contributor: Khayālī Bukhārā'ī, d. ca. 1446
Author and Contributor: Ẕātī, 1471–1546
Author and Contributor: Rashīdī Bīdvāzī, d. ca. 1499

Imperfect due to missing folios, with verses on 232a to 233a that await identification.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Primarily tan-coloured paper with occasional folios tinted in dark indigo, green, and black, and 192a silver now tarnished, with many stencilled papers employed for the painted illustrations. One stencilled conjugate bifolium, 73b to 74a features a polyhedral 12-pointed startburst design outlined in gold, left blank. One other decorated paper conjugate bifolium, 99a and 105b, bears drizzled rivulents of reddish-brown tinted sizing (papier coulé).
Extent: 233 folios (ff. 233), inclusive of the endpapers.
Dimensions (leaf): 200 × 120 mm.
Dimensions (written): 158 × 95 mm.
Foliation: Hindu-Arabic numerals commence with folio 4 (marked ‘9’ in modern pencilled Arabic numerals).
Foliation: European foliation in Arabic numberals in pencil include the flyleaves, referenced by B. W. Robinson, hence referenced in this record.


Undetermined. Catchwords present on the lower-left corners of the b sides.


Handle with caution. In poor condition, with extensive water damage, stains, ink deterioration, as well as subsequent alterations and insertions, and extensive historical repairs throughout.


Written in 1 to 2 columns in 16 lines in the centre, with a third column written diagonally in the surrounding margins with 14 hemistichs, hence 30 lines. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Copied in in nasta'liq script in various multi-coloured inks by Muḥammad Kātib al-Lārī.


The manuscript contains ten large illuminated headings, with many smaller ones, and eight double-page illustrations, which B. W. Robinson attributes to Shiraz and describes as Commercial Turkman. All illustrations, the first pair excepted, appear executed over spray-painted stencils which form part of the manuscript's original construction, with découpage compositions and calligraphy specimens subsequently added.


  • Folios 9b to 10a: Court Scene surrounded by forty-nine circles with the names of the poets represented in the volume.
    Each half measures 146 × 76 mm.
  • Folios 13b to 14a: Two mounted youths hunting, set within prominent brown, spray-painted and outlined floral margins infilled with various painted animals.
    Each half measures 95 × 63 mm.

    Published: Robinson, p. 160, no. 569.

  • Folios 21b to 22a: Outdoor scene features a young prince reading, seated by a pond at right with attendants, with white, spray-painted and outlined floral scrollwork margins infilled with various painted fish, executed on dark indigo blue paper.
    21b: 82 × 57 mm.
    22a: 79 × 48 mm.
    Published: Robinson, p. 160, no. 569.
  • Folios 41b to 42a: Eight angels, arranged in four pairs, set against white spray-painted stencilled cloud-bands outlined in gold.
    Each half measures 152 × 76 mm.
    Published: Robinson, p. 161, no. 570.
  • Folios 65b to 66a: Outdoor scene featuring a young nobleman seated by a pond at right with attendants offering food and wine, with a groom and horse at lower-left, set within brown spray-painted and outlined stencilled arabesques with geometric square kufic (bannā'ī, literally 'masonry') designs that feature the name ‘Alī repeated four times, in the corners.
    Each half measures 82 × 70 mm.
    Published: Robinson, p. 162, no. 571.
  • Folios 94b to 95a: Outdoor party featuring a young nobleman with attendants, one offering wine at right, and musicians and a dancing girl at left, with white spray-painted stencilled arabesques at top and bottom, outlined in gold, executed on dark indigo blue paper.
    Each half measures 89 × 76 mm.
  • Folios 109b to 110a: Noblemen hawking, with footmen set within pale reddish-brown spray-painted and outlined stencilled margins, infilled with various animals.
    Each half measures 92 × 63 mm.
  • Folios 117b to 118a: Two mounted youths hunting, set within prominent brown, spray-painted and outlined stencilled floral margins infilled with various painted animals, the same as found on folios 13b to 14a above.
    Each half measures 92 × 63 mm.

Added compositions: Two calligraphy specimens, one signed, and several découpage compositions by other artists subsequently mounted within the volume.

  • Folio 58a: Remnants of a floral découpage design, with resulting stains, subsequently overpainted.
  • Folio 73b: two découpage blossoming saplings with birds, now damaged, negative-cut from pink sheet adhered over a dark indigo paper.
  • Folio 87b: Persian calligraphy specimen in oblique chalīpā format mounted upon the page, signed by Muḥammad Zāhid bin Laṭīf Samarqandī dated 991 AH (1583–84 CE).
  • Folio 103a: Découpage floral sprays, negative-cut from pink sheet with additional painted embellishments.
  • Folio 129b: An unsigned découpage calligraphy negative cut from bright pink paper features a verse by Kamāl Khujandī.
  • Folio 137b: Unsigned Persian calligraphy specimen in nasta‘līq script in oblique chalīpā format mounted upon the page, quote a variant of the last verse of the Gulistān of Sa‘dī.
  • Folios 153b to 154a: An unsigned découpage excerpt from an Arabic supplicatory prayer in nasta‘līq script, cut from pink paper in a horizontal format, but mounted vertically.
  • Folio 168a: A découpage floral scrollwork composition cut from salmon-pink paper with painted embellishments.
  • Folio 175b: An unsigned découpage calligraphy features a variant verse of Sa‘dī.
  • Folio 183b: Remnants of a symmetrical découpage vase of flowers and birds, subsequently overpainted.
  • Folio 192a: Découpage blossoming saplings and birds negative cut from a peach-coloured paper, mounted horizontally.
  • Folio 215b: Découpage blossoming saplings and birds negative cut from a peach-coloured paper.

Table of Contents:
  • The names of the poets appears on 7a to 7b with a mistaken date of completion of 929 AH (1522–23 CE).
  • Various notations on folios 9a to 9b and 233b, including one dated 1199 AH (1784–85 CE) on the latter.
Bookplates: The left pastedown: ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with shelfmark ‘2/B’, ‘Bland MSS No. 312’.


Repaired, resewn, trimmed, and rebound, likely in the early 19th century in a European-style red maroon goatskin leather binding over pasteboards, with a hollow tube and false raised bands. Endpapers of European-made indigo Stormont marbled paper.

Spine panels tooled with triple-line pallette by the bands and triangles on right and left comprised of repeated radiating gold lines, executed with a thin palette to create a sunburst effect. Board edges bear gilt diagonal decorative roll lines.

206 × 127 × 40 mm.

Binding in fair condition, with the board exterior abraaded


The volume bears several immolated seal impressions of prior owners on folios 9b and 233b, while Folio 2a: bears a small, red, rectangular wax seal, intaglio-carved in Persian nasta‘līq with the name of John Staples Harriott dated 1224 AH (1809–10 CE). The same seal also impressed uoon the right paste down of Persian MS 90 and Persian MS 364, second right flyleaf (f. iia).

‘ ات کپتان ۱۲۲۴
جان سٹی‍لس هاری ’

(Jān Staypils Hārī-āt, Kaptān, 1224).

12 × 14 mm.


Origin: Possibly completed by Muḥammad Kātib al-Lārī in Shiraz; 938–39 AH (1531–33 CE)

Provenance and Acquisition

Formerly owned by British East India Company interpreter John Staples Harriott (1780–1839), who impressed his red wax seal upon folio 2a. Sold after his death by the Alliance des Arts, Paris on 13–15 April 1843 (cat. 129), where scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803-1865) purchased it.

After his 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 upon B. W. Robinson, Persian Paintings in the John Rylands Library: A Descriptive Catalogue and an index by Reza Navabpour circa 1993, derived in turn 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 completed by James White in 2017.

Subsequently augmented and enhanced by Jake Benson in 2022 with reference to the volume 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.

Digital Images

Manchester Digital Collections (full digital facsimile).


    Filiz Çağman, Kat'ı: Cut Papers Works and Artists in the Ottoman World. Istanbul: Aygaz, 2014.
    D. N. Marshall, Mughals in India: A Bibliographical Survey. Vol. 1. Manuscripts (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1962), pp. 136–37, no. 442(i).
    Jules Mohl and Paul Lacroix. Catalogue de livres et manuscrits orientaux, provenant de la bibliothèque de feu M. John Staples Harriot... (Paris: Alliance des arts, 1843), p. 20, no. 129.
    B. W. Robinson, Persian Paintings in the John Rylands Library: A Descriptive Catalogue (London: Sotheby Parke Bernet, 1980), pp. 158–163.

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute

The Soudavar Memorial Foundation


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