Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 6 (The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: Illustrated copy of Khusraw and Shirin, one of the five poems of Nizami's Khamsa.
Title: Khusraw va Shīrīn
Title: خسرو و شيرين
Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Remargined throughout with gold-dusted pink paper, the edges trimmed down so that the covers overlap about 3 mm.
Extent: 66 folios
Dimensions (leaf): 30.5 × 20.2 cm.
Dimensions (written): 17.8 × 11.2 cm.




Five early sixteenth-century miniatures, exemplifying court artists' work at the beginning of Tahmasp's reign (f. 10b, f. 37b, f. 43b, f. 55a and f. 60a).

Illuminated heading on f. 1b of high quality and in very good condition. Sub-headings fully illuminated throughout, with two small decorative panels above the colophon on f. 66a. All the illuminations are in early sixteenth-century style.


Early sixteenth-century binding of good quality. The outer faces consist of a sunk panel of floral and cloud scrolls, surrounded by a frame of small panels and corner-pieces of similar design. The doublures each have a large medallion with pendants and corner pieces, consisting of cut-out work of brown on blue, on a sunk gilt ground with clouds and floral scrolls. The flowers have been picked out with colour. The cut-out work on the medallions has disappeared and has been replaced by a spray of roses painted onto paper stuck onto the medallion (possibly Indian, 18th century?).


Origin: Dated 24 Rabi' II, 824 AH (1421 CE)

Provenance and Acquisition

Colophon dated by the well-known calligrapher Azhar al-Sultani. Note: B.W. Robinson has questioned the date which the colophon gives, as the middle digit of the date appears to have been altered and the left-hand date was possibly also altered. The illuminations, miniatures and the binding also appear to be from the early sixteenth century, rather than from 1421. The date is in agreement with Azhar al-Sultani's known floruit, however. On the other hand, the final triangular portion of the colophon may not belong to the rest of the colophon, from which it is divided by a gold marginal ruling, possibly masking a join in the paper.

Formerly part of the collection of the diplomat Gore Ousley (1770-1844). Four fly-leaves at the beginning are occupied by an account, in the writing of Sir Gore Ousley, of the poem and its author. This is signed and dated 'Hall Barn Park, January 1837'. His bookplate also appears on the end fly-leaf. The manuscript then became part of the collection of the Persian scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803-1865). Bland’s oriental manuscripts were sold through Bernard Quaritch in 1866 to Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford.

Purchased by Enriqueta Rylands, on behalf of the John Rylands Library, in 1901 from James Ludovic Lindsay, 26th Earl of Crawford.

Record Sources

Codicological description based on B.W. Robinson, Persian Paintings in the John Rylands Library: A Descriptive Catalogue (London, 1980), p. 148-50

Bibliographical description based on an index created by Reza Navabpour circa 1993. Identification of provenance based on manuscript catalogue by Michael Kerney, circa 1890s.


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.

A digital facsimile is available via the University of Manchester LibraryImage Collections

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation and The John Rylands Research Institute


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