Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 599 (The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: The Timurid court poet and renowned Sufi ‘Abd al-Raḥman Jāmī (1414–1492) originally composed the Bahāristān (Spring Garden) in 892 AH (1487 CE). Modelled upon the Gulistān (Rose Garden) of Saʻdī, the work is divided into eight chapters or 'gardens' (rawżah) devoted to Sufi saints and philosophers, the topics of justice, generosity, love, and comedy, as well as a highly esteemed section on poetic literature, and the last regarding animals. This manuscript containing nine illustrations was completed in India in 1260 AH (1844 CE), and is the latest of the copies held in the John Rylands Library.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Indian laid handmade paper, ~1.5 mm between laid lines, no observable chain lines. Endpapers of pale yellow, unwatermarked European laid handmade paper.
Extent: 56 folios (i+56+i)
Dimensions (leaf): 238 × 151 mm.
Dimensions (written): 115 × 187 mm.
Foliation: Modern foliation in Arabic numerals in pencil on the upper-right corners of the a sides.


Unusual, alternating binions and quinternions: 1V(10)1II(14)1V(25)1II(28)1V(38)1II(42)1V(52)1II(56). Catchwords throughout on the b sides.


In good condition, with some recent paper repairs executed on the margins.


Single column, 13 lines per page. The written surface area varies in height.


Copied in a hasty nasta‘liq script in black ink, with verse markers and subheaders marked in red.


Illumination: Headpiece on folio 1b, hastily rendered in blue, orange, pink, green, and gold. Marginal ruling throughout, with a wide rule painted in pale ochre imitating gold that is outlined on both sides with thin black single and double lines, surrounded by single lines of red and blue.

Illustrations: Nine illustrations, with space for another one never completed, hastily rendered in bright colours and embellished in gold by an unknown artist in the mid nineteenth-century. Perhaps Kashimiri but depictions recall contemporaneous portraits of the last Mughal ruler Muḥammad Bāhadur Shāh II (r. 1837–1857). Unfortunately, many of the captions written vertically on the fore-edge were trimmed when the volume was bound.

  • 14a 90 × 100 mm. Iskandar and his troops approach Jahāngīr Shāh in his fortress.
  • 17b 78 × 101 mm. Ruler seated against a yellow cushion on a raised throne set on a veranda with two standing attendants, one before him bearing a dish, and the other fanning him from behind.
  • 19a 90 × 102 mm. Ruler seated against a pink cushion set on a veranda with two men seated before him, while a guard stands in the foreground.
  • 21a 90 × 102 mm. Ruler seated against a pink cushion on a raised throne set on a veranda with a man seated before him while an attendant fans him from behind.
  • 28b 90 × 102 mm. Ruler wearing a turban seated against a pink cushion on a raised throne set on a veranda with two standing men, one before him while another is behind him with his arm raised (perhaps missing his fan?).
  • 30a 65 × 102 mm. Unpainted, but captioned.
  • 32a 75 × 104 mm. A bearded sage wears a yellow turban and sits against a pink cushion by a door converses with young man seated before him.
  • 40b 80 × 102 mm. Man enters a door before a seated female figure. Not captioned.
  • 49a 90 × 100 mm. Man seated before a seated ruler on a veranda with a male attendant fanning the latter from behind.
  • 51a 76 × 102 mm. Man seated before a seated female on a veranda. Caption states that it depicts a dervish.

  • Bookplates: left paste-down, ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with shelf mark ‘F/6’, and ‘Hamilton MSS No. 516’.


Sewn at four stations without supports. Bound in full, tight backed, semi-limp red goatskin leather without a flap (Type III binding per Déroche), without endbands. Cover decorated with gilt leather onlays with a central mandorla featuring a lily design and detached palmette pendants (note only the bottom pendant remains on the right cover). Blind tooled margins and cross-cross vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines through the centres. Thick and thin ruled lines in grayish-white paint framing the perimeters of the boards, with additional radiating lines in the same paint. 237 × 158 × 11 mm.


Origin: Northern India; 1260 AH (1844 CE)

Provenance and Acquisition

Formerly in the possession of 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 of which 352 were selected after his death for the British Museum that are now held in the British Library.

The remainder were purchased in 1868 by 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.

Record Sources

Bibliographical description based on an index created by Reza Navabpour circa 1993. Identification of provenance based on manuscript catalogue by Michael Kerney, circa 1890s. Emended and enhanced by Jake Benson in 2020 with reference to the manuscript.


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.


Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation and The John Rylands Research Institute


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