Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 79 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: A complete illustrated 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 Shāh ‘Alī Riz̤ā Qādirī on 17 Muḥarram 1231 AH (19 Dec. 1815 CE), probably in the Indian subcontinent.
Scribe: Shāh ‘Alī Riz̤ā Qādirī;
شاه علی رضا قادری
Incipit: (beginning) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): الهی گنچه‌ٔ امید بگشایی * که گلی از روضهٔ جوید نمایی
Explicit: برگ ۱۴۰پ (folio 140b): زبانرا گوشمال خامشی ده * که هست از هرچه گویی خامشی به.
Colophon: برگ ۱۴۰پ (folio 140b): تمت تمام شد قصهٔ عاشق و معشوق بتاریخهفدهم محرم الحرام سنه۱۲۳۱ هجری کاتبه شاه علی رضا قادری.
Colophon: Completed by Shāh ‘Alī Riz̤ā Qādirī on 17 Muḥarram 1231 AH (19 Dec. 1815 CE).

For other copies of this work, see Rylands Persian MS 20, 70, 127, 267, 963 and 980, as well as the text within the Haft Awrang (Seven Thrones) in Persian MS 949, and the Kullīyāt (Complete Works), Persian MS 601.

Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Textblock of straight-grained, externally sized and polished, egsshell-coloured, highly flocked paper probably handmade in the Indian subcontinent with ~7 laid lines per cm and no discernible chain lines.
Extent: 140 folios, 2 flyleaves (ff. iii + 140 + iii).
Dimensions (leaf): 255 × 161 mm.
Dimensions (written): 185 × 91 mm.
Foliation: Pencilled Hindu-Arabic numerals inconsistently added to the upper-left corners of the a sides every ten folios.


Primarily quaternions. 17IV(136)1II(140). Catchwords on the lower-left corners of the b sides throughout.


Handle text with caution. In fair but condition, with extensive insect damage and historical repairs, especially in the gutter margins throughout.


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


Written in clear black nasta‘līq with red subheaders by Shāh ‘Alī Riz̤ā Qādirī.


Illumination: Folio 1b bears a scalloped triangular headpiece with painted floriate scrollwork on an gold ground with a cartouche bearing a basmala below, and the whole surmounted by fourteen vertical radiating lines.

Ruling: The central text margins and column dividers on folios 1b and 2a ruled in gold outlined with thin black lines surrounded by red and blue single lines, surrounded by dark blue single lines on the outer margins. The central text on olios 2b onwards ruled with single orange lines outlined with thin black single lines, surrounded by dark blue single lines on the outer margins.

Marginalia: Occasional notes written in the margins in various nasta‘līq hands.
Inscriptions: The first right flyleaf a side (f. ia) bears the title in a hasty nasta‘līq and Latin scripts (the latter again at bottom, upside-down) the signed ‘S. H. Lewin 1823’ by Samuel Hawtayne Lewin .
Bookplates: The last flyleaf b side (f. vib): ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with pencilled shelfmark ‘2/F’.
The last flyleaf a side (f. via): ‘Bland MSS No. 301’, with the name and number crossed out and ‘Persian’ and ‘79’ written aside.


Contemporary binding likely executed in the Indian subcontinent.

Sewn at two unsupported stations. Endpapers of medium-weight, cross-grained, ivory-coloured paper, with ~9 laid lines per cm and ~28 mm between chain lines, the watermarked with the East India Company insignia
106 × 57 mm.
(NB: dimensions taken from Persian MS 922 as it spans the gutter) and countermarked ‘J. Whatman
& W. Balston 1813
(dimensions undetermined), manufactured by the Whatman Paper Mill in Maidstone, Kent, then owned and operated by William Balston (1759–1849). Edges trimmed, and chevron endbands of yellow and silver threads twined at head and tail. Covered in full, smooth, crimson goatskin leather, over pasteboards, without either squares or flap squares, but with prominent defined joints (type III binding per Déroche). Interior doublures lined with the same leather, with their excess widths adhered as hinges connecting the boards to the textblock, with strips of paper decoratively cut with zig-zags along one edges applied over top to disgues the joins.

Boards decorated with recessed central scalloped mandorlas, detached pendants, and cornerpieces with floratiate scrollwork designs, and rosettes between the last, all blocked on gold leaf. Central decoration further embellished with criss-crossed darted lines in gold. The surrounding board margins bear wide painted floriate scrollwork designs, with thin double-ruled lines on either side, surrounded by a thick single ruled line and thin double lines. Board edges painted with diagonal lines in gold. Interior doublures extensively decorated and ruled in a white metal alloy, possibly tin, with darted interior and floriate scrollwork exterior margins. Spine subsequently titled ‘YUSUF ZULAIKHA - JAMI’ in gold, the same as Persian MS 70.

229 × 152 × 25 mm.

Handle binding with caution. In fair but stable condition with extensive surface abrasion, right board cracking in the joint, headcap exposed, and insect damage. and bumped upper corners, broken upper headcap, and also breaking in the joints by the head. Boards loosely connected, with the hinges lifting and pulling away from the textblock.


Origin: Completed by Shāh ‘Alī Riz̤ā Qādirī, probably in the Indian subcontinent; 17 Muḥarram 1231 AH (19 Dec. 1815 CE).

Provenance and Acquisition

While the circumstances under which this volume arrived in Britain remain unclear, Chancery Court Clerk and Royal Asiatic Society member Samuel Hawtayne Lewin (1795–1840), acquired it in 1823 as per his signature on the first right flyleaf a side (f. ia)

After Lewin's death, his family evidently sold his manuscripts, largely then obtained 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.

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 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] .
    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].
    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].

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute

The Persian Heritage Foundation


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