Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 709 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: Astronomical tables here entitled Zīj-i Ūlūgh Bayg, also known as Zīj-i Sulṭānī-i Gūrkānī records observations made at the royal observatory in Samarqand in circa 1438, completed for for the Timurid-era Prince Ulugh Bayg (1394–1449). The work compiles observations made by Ūlūgh Bayg with the assistance of Qāẓīzādah-’i Rūmī , subsequently edited by Alī ibn Muḥammad Qūshjī, (d. ca. 1475). While unsigned and undated, this manuscript may be from the Indian subcontinent, possibly completed during the 18th century CE.
Author, Editor and Contributor: Qāẓīzādah-’i Rūmī
Title: Zīj-i Sulṭānī-i Gūrkānī
Title: زیج سلطانی گورکانی
Incipit: (basmala) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): تبارك الذى جعل فى السماء بروجاً و جعل فيها سراجاً و قمراً و منيراً مالك الملكى كه مصباح صباح و جعل الشمس سراجاً و هاجاً افروخته...
Explicit: برگ ۲۳۳ر (folio 233a): و درمبداء اين از تاريخ ملكي بالصد و هشتاد سال از يالهاي افتاب گذاشته بوده است و الله اعلم بالصواب.
Colophon: ‌No colophon.
Language(s): Persian

See E. B. Knobel's translation for an analysis of this manuscript in comparison to other surviving copies held in Britain.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Textblock of medium-weight, cross-grained, straw-coloured paper probably handmade in the Indian subcontinent with 6 laid lines per cm and few discernible chain lines.
Extent: 208 folios, 2 flyleaves (ff. ii + 208 + ii).
Dimensions (leaf): 300 × 193 mm.
Dimensions (written): 230 × 125 mm.
Foliation: Arabic numerals pencilled on the top-left corners of the a sides throughout.


Undetermined due to extensive repairs gutter margins. No catchwords.


In fair condition, with moderate water and insect damage, with nearly all gutter margins replaced, and other historical repairs throughout.


Written in 1 column with prose passages in 21 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Written in clear black nasta‘līq with subheaders in red.


Ruling: margins ruled with double red lines throughout.

Inscriptions: The first right flyleaf a side (f. iia) bears the title and author of the volume in bold nasta‘līq script, likely in the hand of assistant to former owner Colonel George William Hamilton, Muhīn Dās.
Folio 1a bears the title followed by a price of fifty-five rupees written in Indian sīyāq numerals at top, with a prose passage and an unidentified astrology chart at bottom. Bookplates: The left pastedown: ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with pencilled shelfmark ‘2/K’, and ‘Hamilton MSS No. 626’ with the name and number crossed out and ‘Persian’ and ‘709’ written aside.


Probably rebound in a hybrid British-Indian style in Multan for former owner Colonel George William Hamilton.

Resewn at two stations, unsupported. Endpapers of comparatively rough, heavily flocked, cross-grained stock. Edges trimmed and twined chevron endbands worked in red and green silk threads over round cores at head and tail. Covered in full maroon goatskin leather, tight-backed, with squares at the edges, defined joints, but without a flap (type III binding per Déroche). Internal doublures lined with the same leather, with the excess width adhered to the first and last flyleaves, with strips of paper serrated along one edge adhered over top to disguise the overlap.

An octagonal paper spine label bears the title in black nasta‘līq.

307 × 206 × 42 mm.

Binding in good condition, with minor exterior scuffing and white salts, especially on the interior doublures, due to prolonged exposure to moisture.


Origin: Probably completed in the Indian subcontinent; ; undated, but possibly 18th century CE.

Provenance and Acquisition

Subsequently acquired by 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, from which the British Museum purchased 352 from his widow, Charlotte Logie Hamilton (1817–1893), now held in the British Library.

Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford (1812–1880) purchased the remainder of Hamilton's collection in 1868.

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, concisely published as Bibliotheca Lindesiana, Hand-list of Oriental Manuscripts: Arabic, Persian, Turkish, 1898.

Manuscript description 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.


    C. Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian manuscripts in the British Museum, Vol. II (London: British Museum, 1881), p. 435 [BL Add. 16827].
    C. A. Storey, Persian Literature: A Bio-bibliographical Survey, Vol. II Pt. 1 (London: Luzac & Co., 1972), pp. 67–70, no. 104(2).
    Ulugh Beg, Ulugh Beg's Catalogue of Stars: Revised from All Persian Manuscripts Existing in Great Britain, with a Vocabulary of Persian and Arabic Words. Translated by E. B. Knobel (Washington [D.C.]: Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1917), pp. 85, 91, nos. 15, 17.

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute


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