Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 72 (The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: This manuscript of the Mas̲navī-i Ma‘navī (Spiritual Couplets) by Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī (1207–1273) bears illuminated headers indicating the prefaces and beginnings of each of the six books within the volume. An unidentified scribe named Ḥasan bin Muḥammad bin Naṣrallāh bin Ḥusayn, Amīr al-Mazīnānī completed it between Rabī' I and mid-Jumādà II 892 (March to mid-June, 1487 CE). If he resided in Mazinan, located in Khurasan near Nishapur and Mashhad, then he lived under Timurid hegemony in Eastern Iran, ruled by Sulṭān Ḥusayn Bāyqarā (r. 1469–1506). However, the style of script and illumination reflect a shared 'Turco-Persian' aesthetic also observed in manuscripts produced during the reign of the Aq Qoyunlu ruler Sulṭān Ya‘qūb (r. 1478–1490) in Western Iran at that time as well.
Scribe: Ḥasan bin Muḥammad bin Naṣrallāh bin Ḥusayn, Amīr al-Mazīnānī
Incipit: (basmalla) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): بشنو از نی چون حکایت می‌کند * وز جدایی‌ها شکایت می‌کند.‌
Explicit: برگ ۳۳۰ر (folio 330a): آب جانرا ریز اندر بحر جان * تا شوی دریای بی‌حدَ و کران
Colophon: برگ ۳۳۰ر (folio 330a): فرغ من تعليق هذا المجلد السادس من المثنوى الهادى الي صراط المستقيم فى اواسط شهر جمادى الثانى سنه اثنى و تسعين وثمانماية حرره العبد الفقير الحقير الى رحمة الله الغانى حسن بن محمد بن نصرالله بن حسين الامير المازينانى. اممهم عغفر لكاتبه والقاريه و لمن نظر فيه آمين يا رب العالمين وصلي على خير الخلقه محمد و عترته الايمته الطيبين الطاهرين وسلم تسليما كثيرا كثيرا
Colophon: Completed on by Ḥasan bin Muḥammad bin Naṣrallāh bin Ḥusayn, Amīr al-Mazīnānī in mid-Jumādà II 892 AH (mid-June 1487 CE).
Language(s): Persian
Title: Preface to Book One
Title: Book One
Title: Book Two
Title: Book Three
Title: Book Four
Title: Book Five
Title: Book Six

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: heavy-weight, cross-grained, straw-coloured paper (possibly tinted with turmeric?), handmade paper, likely manufactured in Iran. paper with ~ 1.5 mm between laid lines and no discernible chain lines, sized and polished, with extensive repairs to the margins executed in comparatively thin, transluscent, white paper probably handmade in Greater Iran.
Extent: 330 folios, 4 flyleaves (ff. ii + 330 + ii).
Dimensions (leaf): 245 × 168 mm.
Dimensions (written): 174 × 117 mm.
Foliation: Pencilled Arabic numerals on the upper-right corners by the cataloguer.


Primarily quaternions throughout. 13IV-1(104)27IV-1(326)1II(330). Catchwords throughout on the lower left corners of the b sides.


Text in fair condition. Initial and final pages curling together at fore-edge; therefore, best to first open it several pages in then turn back. Extensive water damage at the edges.


Written in 1 to 4 columns with 21 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Written in a highly refined black nasta‘līq script with subheaders in red and some passages in blue.


Illumination: Gilt headers found on all six books.

Marginalia: Occasional notes throughout, with a large number on folios 190b to 193b.
Inscriptions: The first right flyleaf a side (f. ia) bears several numbers probably pertinent to unidentified libraries, booksellers, and auction lots:
  • ‘Nº 39’ in the top-left corner.
  • ‘5200’ written diagonally underneath.
  • A price of ‘£10 10’ that likely corresponds to the unidentified pasted bookseller's listing on the right doublure.
Folio 1a bears a number of titles with prices and presumably markups, including a Mas̱navī for ‘400’, then marked up for ‘120’, for ‘520’ totalled. Folio 158a bears Arabic supplications.
Bookplates and Labels: The right doublure bears two labels:
  • An unidentified bookseller's listing:
    ‘86 MASNAVY JALALUDDIN RUMY, the justly celebrated work of
    the Poet Jalaluddin Rumy, an ancient MS. finely written,
    and in excellent condition, sm. fol. russia, neat 10l. 10s.
  • Bookplate of ‘John Haddon Hindley
The left doublure bears three labels:
  • A bookseller's ticket of ‘Howell and Stewart, 295 Holborn,London’.
  • ‘Bland MSS No. 294’ with ‘72’ written beside it.
  • ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with shelfmark ‘F/5’.


An Indian bookbinder apparently repaired and rebound the volume and added new endpapers with a table of contents, possibly for former owner John Staples Harriott, who acquired many manuscripts in Iran and India.

Abbreviated resewing on 5 recessed cords with silk threads, but seemingly neither laced into the pasteboards nor frayed out upon them. Rebound, without endbands, in a hybrid British-Indian style, tight-backed, in smooth, tight-grained full goatskin leather. Internal doublures of the same goatskin leather as on the exterior, with the excess width put down on the right and left flyleaves as hinges to connect the cover to the textblock, then covered by strips of paper to neaten the joins.

Boards diced in the central panels, surrounded by a yellow double-ruled line, and a thick rule with thin lines either side that surround the perimeters. Spine likely later titled in gold in Britain, ‘MESNAVI — PERS. MS.’, surrounded by double fillets and two corner tools featuring double-line folate scrolls work at head and tail, puncuated with small, individual flower blossoms and leaves.

246 × 172 × 46 mm.

Binding in sound condition. Beware of tight stitching in the gutter margins between folios 37 to 40, which restricts the page openings.


Origin: Possibly originally completed in Mazinan, Iran; mid-Jumādà II 892 AH (mid-June 1487 CE).

Provenance and Acquisition

Subsequently acquired by Manchester librarian John Haddon Hindley (1765–1827).

After his death, London antiquarian booksellers Howell and Stewart apparently listed this manuscript along with other volumes from his library for sale.

Subsequently acquired by scholar Nathaniel Bland (1803–1865), after whose 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 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 handlist by Michael Kerney, circa 1890s and his 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.


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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