Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 800 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: The third and final volume of the Akbarnāmah va Ā’īn-i Akbarī (Book of Akbar and Akbar's Administration" by Abū al-Faz̤l ibn Mubārak (1551–1602), separately added by a former owner to the first two comparatively much smaller volumes copied by another scribe, Persian MS 798 and Persian MS 799, to complete and uniformly rebind them as a set. A Mughal courtier and ultimately Chief Secretary and close confidant of Akbar (b. Akbar, b. 1542, r. 1556–1605), the author relates vivid accounts of events that occurred during his patron's reign. This concluding portion, known as the Ā’īn-i Akbarī (Akbar's Administration) which features an extensive survey regarding various elites, rivals, and cultural figures, regions, faiths, social groups, manufacturers, and products within India at that time. This finely copied manuscript may date to the 17th century, but it apparently never saw completion and suffered subsequent damage. A later owner acquired and had the original portion of the volume restored, with missing portions of the text completed.
Incipit: (basmala) برگ ۹پ (folio 9b): ای همه در پرده نهان را از تو * بخیر انجام ز آغاز تو.
Explicit: برگ ۴۴۱ر (folio 441a): چو نور از مه و تایش از مشتری * هنر باید از مردم گوهری.
Colophon: برگ ۴۴۱ر (folio 441a): تمت تمام شد هذا الکتاب جلد ثالث اکبرنامه.
Colophon: Nondescript colophon, unsigned and undated.
Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Textblock of cross-grained, sized and highly polished ivory-coloured paper probably handmade in the Indian subcontinent with 8 laid lines per cm and no discernible chain lines, all remargined in a comparatively beige stock. Portions of the text appear replaced or added on a comparatively heavy, straw-coloured cross-grained stock, with ~7 laid lines lines per cm and alternating ~18 and 33 mm between chain lines.
Extent: 440 folios, 3 flyleaves (ff. i + 440 + ii).
Dimensions (leaf): 330 × 280 mm.
Dimensions (written): 190 × 102 mm.
Foliation: Modern Arabic numeral pencilled on the upper-left corners of the a sides, which omit number 158, so thereafter under by one.


Undetermined. Catchwords throughout most of the lower-left corners of the b sides.


Handle with caution. In fair condition, with extensive water and insect damage and historical repairs throughout.


Written in 1 column in 15 to 21 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Written in small, clear black nasta‘līq with subheaders in red, but in a different hand from Persian MSS 798 and 799, in 21 lines per page

Written in comparatively large, clear black nasta‘līq with subheaders in red, in 15 to 18 lines that fill most of the page.

Charts and disagrams written perpendicular to the gutter in a comparatively bold black nasta‘līq with shikastah ligatures and subheaders in red.


Diagrams: Folios 11a to 112a and 314b to 315a bears various diagrams.

Table of Contents: Listed in another hand on folios 1a to 7b.
  • Folio 1a, above the table of contents, bears an ownership notation inscribed above an oval seal impression, possibly of Rajah Keshav Rao(no. 1):
    ‘مالک کتاب ملت درگاه’
  • Folio 8a bears a price of 30 rupees in Indian sīyāq script below an octagonal seal impression (no. 2).
  • Folio 9a lists costs pertaining to the repair and completion the volume: kāghaẕ (paper, presumably used for the added portions), jadval-kashī (ruling, probably here meaning diagrams and charts), jildband (bookbinding) and ajzā' (materials), written above an obliterated seal impression.
  • Folios 441b bears a note stating the volume contains 432 folios, and another by former owner Rājah Kīshav Rāo above his seal impression, in which he states that he obtained it in the capital of India:
    ‘اکبرنامه دفتر سیوم ۳ ملة درگاه کیشوراو کاره در دار الخلافه هند ی گفرت.’
Bookplates: Left pastedown: ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with pencilled shelfmark ‘1/B’, and earlier class mark ‘Persian 4, 5, 6,
’ all crossed out and ‘800’ written aside.


Rebound in Europe in the 18th century.

Resewn on four recessed cords laced into pasteboards. Medium-weight, ivory-coloured European laid endpapers added with ~10 laid lines per cm and 26 mm between chain lines, watermarked with a bunch of grapes and ‘P & F’. Edges trimmed, stained brown, and decorative front-bead endbands sewn over a single round core in white and yellow silk threads at head and tail, then boards covered in full red goatskin leather.

Board margins decorated with single solid fillet lines and vertical dashed and dotted roll, board edges and headcaps with thick solid and thin dashed diagonal roll, and the spine dived into seven panels palleted with Greek meanders, solid fillet lines, and foliate scrollwork designs, and titled ‘AKBARNAMAH VOL. III.’ all in gold.

345 × 230 × 68 mm.

Handle with caution. Binding in fair condition, with abraded exterior, bumped upper corner and a pronounced vertical crease on the left cover and loose endpapers.

Four black seal impressions, intaglio-carved in nasta‘līq script, one obliterated, and with three legible, all bearing variations of the name of former owner Rājah Kīshav Rāo:

1: Folio 1a, top bears a partially legible seal impression in three stacked lines, single-ruled:

‘راو کیشو راو’ ‘Rāw Kīshav Rāw’

11 × 13 mm.

2: Folio 8a bears an octagonal seal impression:

‘راجه کیشو راو’ ‘Rājah Kīshav Rāw’

15 × 19 mm.

3: Folio 441b bears an octagonal seal impression in two stacked lines, singlee-ruled:

‘راو کیشو راو’ ‘Rāw Kīshav Rāw’

13 × 16 mm.


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

Provenance and Acquisition

Formerly owned by Rajah Keshav Rao, possibly a royal messenger to the Maratha Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao (b. 1721, r. 1740–1761), according to his seal impressions and notations on folios 1a, 8a, and 441b which indicate that he acquired the volume in Delhi, possibly from someone who had the volume reapired and completed, as indicated by the note and obliterated oval seal impression on folio 9a.

Subsequently acquired by another unknown, presumably British, former owner who combined it with two other volumes and rebound them as a set. Sold in Oct. 1863 by London bookseller Bernard Quaritch (1819–1899) to Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford (1812–1880) for £8, 8 shillings (see catalogue, no. 5921).

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.

Digital Images

Manchester Digital Collections (full digital facsimile).


    Abū al-Faz̤l ibn Mubārak, The History of Akbar. Translated by W. M. Thackston. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2015–.
    Abū al-Faz̤l ibn Mubārak, Akbarnāmah. Edited by Āghā Ahmad ʼAlī. Calcutta: Asiatic Society, 1873.
    Abū al-Faz̤l ibn Mubārak, and Henry Beveridge. The Akbar Nāma of Abu-L-Fazl. Calcutta: Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1897.
    A. F. L. Beeston, Catalogue of the Persian, Turkish, Hindûstânî, and Pushtû Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Part III (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954), p. 5 no. 2460 [Bodl Ms. Pers. B. 5].
    Hermann Ethé, Catalogue of Persian manuscripts in the library of the India Office Vol. 1, (London: India Office Library, 1903), col. 107, no. 264 [BL IO Islamic 6].
    D. N. Marshall, Mughals in India: A Bibliographical Survey. Vol. 1. Manuscripts (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1962), p. 33, no. 99(i).
    Bernard Quaritch, A Catalogue of Books, Arranged in Classes Comprising All Departments of Literature, Many of Them Rare, Valuable, and Curious, Offered for Sale (London: , Apr. 1864), p. 316, no. 5921.
    C. Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian manuscripts in the British Museum, Vol. I (London: British Museum, 1879), p.251 [BL Add. 7652].
    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. 115, no. 213 [Bodl. Ouseley Add. 165].
    C. A. Storey, Persian Literature: A Bio-bibliographical Survey, Vol. I Pt. 2 (London: Luzac & Co., 1935), p. 549, §709(2).

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute


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