Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 70 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: A complete unillustrated copy of the romance of Yūsuf va Zulaykhā, which comprises the second of seven books in the collection entitled Haft Awrang (Seven Thrones) by ‘Abd al-Raḥmān Jāmī (d. 1492), in 957 AH (1550–51 CE). A mystical love story of the Prophet Joseph and Potiphar's wife, the author primarily drew inspiration from the twelfth chapter of the Qur'ān Sūrah Yūsuf and references by prior poets. A scribe named Muḥammad ‘Alī Khvansar completed this manuscript at the start of Jumādà I 1222 AH (End of July 1807 CE) for ُThomas Sydenham, British Resident at Hyderabad.
Patron: Sydenham, Thomas, 1780–1816;
طماس سدنم
Incipit: (beginning) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): الهی گنچه‌ٔ امید بگشایی * که گلی از روضهٔ جوید نمایی
Explicit: برگ ۲۷۴ر (folio 274a): زبان را گوشمال خامشی ده * که هست از هرچه گویی خامشی به.
Rubric: برگ ۲۷۴ر (folio 274a): راقمه فقیر حقیر سیره تصیر اقل خلق الله محمد علی خوانسر
Colophon: برگ ۲۷۴ر (folio 274a): تمت الکتاب بتاریخ غرهٔ شهر جمادی الاول سنه ۱۲۲۲ در دلده حیدرآباد فرخنده بناید بحسب الخواهش نیاکان ذی شان عالیجاه رفیعی پگاه حشمت و شوکت و اجلال دستگاه اهلیت و ابهت و اقبال همراه عمدة الامراء نفی‌ام سردار سرداران عالیمقام اغنی سلکان صاحب عالیان طامس سدنم بهادر دام اقباله تحریر نموده شد.
Colophon: Completed by Muḥammad ‘Alī Khvānsar for ُThomas Sydenham in Hyderabad on at the start of Jumādà I 1222 AH (End of July 1807 CE).

For other copies of this work, see Rylands Persian MS 20, 79, 127, 267, 963 and 980, as well as the text within the Haft Awrang (Seven Thrones) in Persian MS 949. For another manuscript completed by Muḥammad ‘Alī Khvānsar for Sydenham held in the Rylands, see Persian MS 50. For more on Sydenham, see Urban.

Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Textblock of cross-grained, externally sized and polished, ivoury-coloured paper, watermarked ‘Curteis & Son’ dated 1801 underneath, manufactured by the Carshalton Mill, Sutton, then owned and operated by Thomas Curteis (ca. 1750–1813), with ~10 laid lines per cm and ~24 mm between chain lines (see Gravell Watermark Archive).
43 × 143 mm. .
Extent: 274 folios, 4 flyleaves (ff. ii + 274 + ii).
Dimensions (leaf): 223 × 141 mm.
Dimensions (written): 160 × 85 mm.
Foliation: Pencilled Hindu-Arabic numeral appear on the first twenty folios only.
Foliation: Modern pencilled Arabic numerals inconsistently marked every ten pages thereafter, followed for this record.


Primarily quaternions. 1IV+1(9)33IV(170)1II+2(174). Catchwords throughout on the lower-left corners of the b sides.


Textblock in good condition.


Written in 1 and 2 columns with 15 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Written in elegant black nasta‘līq with occasional shikastah finials and ligatures by Muḥammad ‘Alī Khvānsar.


Headpiece: Folio 1b bears a scalloped domed headpiece decorated with dotted clusters on an solid gilt ground, with black intermediate margins, above a central cartouche bearing a nasta‘līq basmala.
90 × 88 mm.

Ruling: Central text margins ruled in gold outlined with thin single internal and double external black lines, and surrounded by comparatively bold red and blue single lines. Thin single gilt lines divide the vertical columns and horizontal breaks, outlined by internal and external single black lines, as well as the exterior margins.

Marginalia: Pencilled notes in the margins throughout, possibly in the hand of former owner Sir Gore Ouseley.
  • The first right flyleaf a side (f. ia) bears ‘Nº 37
    Yusef va Zelikha’, consistent with other books formerly owned by Sir Gore Ouseley, together with other bookseller notations.
  • The second right flyleaf a side (f. iia) signed by Tho: Sydenham together with bookseller notes.
  • The second right flyleaf b side (f. iib) bears a pencilled table of contents, possibly in the hand of former owner Nathaniel Bland.
Bookplates: Left pastedown: ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with pencilled shelfmark ‘2/I’
The fourth leftt flyleaf a side (f. iva): ‘Bland MSS No. 292’, with the name and number crossed out and ‘Persian’ and ‘70’ written aside.


Contemporary binding likely executed in Hyderabad for Thomas Sydenham.

Sewn at two stations, unsupported, with a single comparatively coarse endpaper added at the end, probably probably handmade in the Indian subcontinent. Edges trimmed, spine lined with cloth, and chevron endbands twined in tan and silver threads at at head and tail. Covered in full black goatskin leather over pasteboards, without a flap, with slightly protruding squares at head and tail and defined joints (type III binding per Déroche). Interior doublures lined with maroon goatskin leather, with their excess widths adhered as hinges connecting the boards to the textblock.

Boards decorated with recessed central scalloped mandorlas, detached pendants, and cornerpieces with floratiate scrollwork designs blocked on gold leaf. Central decoration ruled with gold single lines that connect the central decoration and cornerpieces, surrounded by single gold lines on the external margins. Spine subsequently titled ‘YUSUF ZULAIKHA - JAMI’ in gold, the same as Persian MS 79.

Fore-edges painted with a pale, relatively hasty floral scrollwork design in gold wash Boards margins painted with a wide band of black dye, ruled with thick-and-thin double interior and exterior lines in gold, with the interior margin embellished with a palmette and trefoil scrollwork border. Spine subsequently titled ‘YUSUF ZULAIKHA - JAMI’ in gold, the same as Persian MS 79 and 127.

230 × 162 × 31 mm.

Handle binding with caution. In poor condition with spine breaking in the joints, with the front board subsequently repaired with a Japanese paper repair. Some surface abrasion, broken headcaps. Boxed, with remnants.


Origin: Completed by Muḥammad ‘Alī Khvānsar for ُThomas Sydenham, British Resident at Hyderabad; at the start of Jumādà I 1222 AH (End of July 1807 CE).

Provenance and Acquisition

Subsequently acquired, probably in the Indian subcontinent by Sir Gore Ouseley (1770–1844) as per an unsigned numbered inscription on second right flyleaf b side (f. iib), top, which comports with his hand as found in other Rylands volumes.

Probably sold by Ouseley to booksellers Howell and Stewart, whom likely it for sale in their 1827 catalogue, no. 4363, for £2 11 shillings and sixpence.

Purchased from Howell and Stewart by scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865) for his library at Randalls Park, Leatherhead.

After Bland's death, London bookseller Bernard Quaritch (1819–1899) sold his oriental manuscripts to Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford (1812–1880) in June, 1866, paid in two instalments of £450 and £400, and then moved to Bibliotheca Lindesiana at Haigh Hall, Wigan.

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, Manchester.

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, 1898.

Manuscript description by Jake Benson in 2023 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.


    A. F. L. Beeston, Catalogue of the Persian, Turkish, Hindûstânî, and Pushtû Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Part III (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954), p.36 no. 2619 [Bodleian Ms. Whinfield 12] .
    W. A. Churchill, Watermarks in Paper: in Holland, England, France, etc., in the XVII and XVIII centuries and their interconnection (Amsetrdam: Menno Hertzberger, 1935), p. cciv, no. 231.
    H. Ethé, Catalogue of Persian manuscripts in the library of the India Office, Vol. 1 (London: Printed for the India Office by H. Hart, 1903), col. 746, no. 1300/6 [British Library IO Islamic 800].
    Gravell Watermark Archive, Word 326.1
    Howell and Stewart, A Supplement to Howell and Stewart's Catalogue of Oriental and Oriento-Biblical Literature for 1827 Including the Most Extensive and Valuable Collection of Eastern Manuscripts Ever Offered for Sale (London: Printed by J. Moyes, 1827) p. 93, no. 4363.
    M. Kerney, Bibliotheca Lindesiana. Handlist of Oriental Manuscripts, Arabic, Persian, Turkish. ([Aberdeen]: Privately printed, 1898), p. 234, no. 20.
    C. Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian manuscripts in the British Museum, Vol. II (London: British Museum, 1881), p. 645 [British Library Add. 7770/3].
    E. Sachau and H. Ethé, Catalogue of the Persian, Turkish, Hindûstani, and Pushtû manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Vol. I (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1889), col.618, no. 897 [Bodleian MS Ouseley 290/5].
    S. Urban 'Memoir of Thomas Sydenham, Esq.' The Gentleman's Magazine for October 1816, Vol. 86, Pt. 2 (Oct. 1816): pp. 374–375.

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute

The Persian Heritage Foundation


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