Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 803 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: The third volume of the Rawz̤at al-Ṣafāʼ (Garden of Purity), a general history from the creation of the world to the time of the author, Muḥammad ibn Khāvandshāh (1433–1498), known as Mīr Khvānd. Combined with other disparate volumes and uniformly bound with Persian MS 801, 802, 804, 805, 806, with Persian MS 807 and 808 separately added to complete the set.
Colophon: برگ ۲۵۹ر (folio 259a): تمت تمام شد. قد فرعت من سوده(؟) هذا النسخه الشعر فی یوم الثلثا من الشهر الرمضان المبارک من سنه الف و ثمانین...
Colophon: Folio 259a: completed ‘Tuesday in the blessed month’ of Ramaz̤ān 1080 AH (Jan.–Feb. 1670 CE).
Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Textblock of thin-weight, straight-grained, paper naturally coloured and tinted in various hues including pink, straw, and bright peach, probably manufactured in the Indian subcontinent, with ~10 laid lines per cm and no discernible chain lines.
Extent: 259 folios, 6 flyleaves (ff. iii + 259 + iii).
Dimensions (leaf): 260 × 168 mm.
Dimensions (written): 193 × 107 mm.
Foliation: Pencilled Arabic numerals on the upper-left corners of a sides of folios when catalogued.


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


Handle with caution. In poor condition with extensive stains, discolouration, insect damage, and historical repairs throughout.


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


Written in black nasta'līq in with subheaders in red.


Ruling: Marginal ruling throughout in pale peach outlined with thin single and double black lines.

Additions: Inscriptions:
  • Folio 1a bears two partially legible notations:
    • The first, written in a fine shikastah script declaring transfer of the volume to someone possibly named ‘Alī, albeit obliterated, possibly in the year 1161 (also unclear), and 26th regnal year, possibly that of the Mughal ruler Muḥammad Shāh (b. 1702 r. 1719–1748).
    • The second, in another hand underneath declares the value of the sixth volume at 40 rupees.
  • Former owner Sir Gore Ouseley inscribed his bookplate on the left pastedown ‘To my friend Colonel Fitz Clarence’.
Bookplates and Pasted Remnants:
  • The third right flyleaf b side (f. iiib) bears the remnants of printed descriptions of the work, likely entries from the catalogue of oriental manuscripts Royal Asiatic Society by former owner William Hook Morley that describes the contents of this volume, given identifiable portions from the same location in Persian MS 806.
  • Right pastedown: Sir Gore Ouseley.
  • The Left pastedown:
    • ‘ِEarl of Munster’
    • ‘Col. Fitz Clarence’
    • ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ bookplates, with the shelf mark ‘1/D’.
    • An earlier Lindesiana label bears a previous class mark, ‘Persian MS 9’ subsequently crossed out.


Uniformly rebound as a set with six other volumes (Persian MS 801 to 806. Since Persian MS 802 appears identical with Persian MS 182, previously owned by Captain Archibald Swinton, whose sale catalogue also lists another lot of an incomplete six-volume set of the same work, it seems that he also likely formerly owned this as well. However, subsequent owners Sir Gore Ouseley (1770–1844) evidently pasted his bookplate over Swinton's on the left paste down, and George Augustus Frederick FitzClarence replaced the label blocked with Swinton's arms adhered to the uppermost spine panel with his own, as further confirmed by similar gilt decoration evident where the top-right corner of the label tore off.

Abbreviated resewing on six cords, laced into pasteboard, edges trimmed and marbled with a loose serpentine pattern drawn over a stone design in yellow, green, black, and red. Decorative front-bead decorative endbands sewn in red and yellow silk threads. Covered in full, bright green calfskin leather, tight-backed and tight-jointed, with 'Old Dutch' curled patterned marbled endpapers, stiff leaved with plain European-manufactured endleaves, with ~9 laid lines per cm and ~23 mm between chain lines.

Spine fully gilt, with the Earl of Munster's arms blocked in gold on skiver leather labels applied to the top panel. Gilt floriate chain borders on the board perimeters, with floral sprig corners, and board edges tooled with a leaf-and-dart roll.

286 × 183 × 37 mm.

Handle with caution. Exterior and board edges abraded, and joints cracked, headcaps missing. Boxed.

The 1st Earl of Munster's arms on the spine.

Blocked in gold on a skiver leather label adhered to the upper panel of the spine, features a crest with a chapeau turned up ermine a lion statant gardant crowned with a ducal coronet and gorged with a collar charged with three anchors and motto ‘Motto NEC TEMERE NEC TIMIDE’ surmounted by a coronet.

24 × 13 mm.


Origin: Probably completed in the Indian subcontinent; Ramaz̤ān 1080 AH (Jan.–Feb. 1670 CE).

Provenance and Acquisition

Subsequently acquired by Captain Archibald Swinton (1731–1804), who served in the East India Company from 1752 to 1766, initially served as a surgeon then later as an interpreter and emissary for Lord Robert Clive (1725–1774), the first Governor of the Bengal Presidency. After amassing a significant collection of manuscripts and works of art, he returned to Britain where he evidently commissioned the rebinding of the first six volumes of this set together with another that closely matches (Rylands Persian MS 182)

After Swinton's death, James Christie Jr (1773–1831) sold his collection in London on 6 June 1810 (see catalogue, p. 4, ‘2d Set’), where Sir Gore Ouseley (1770–1844) purchased it for £1 1 shilling

Ouseley then added the last two volumes to complete the set, which later presented to friend George Augustus Frederick FitzClarence, 1st Earl of Munster (1794–1842), as per his inscription on the right pastedown, presumably after the latter attained the rank of colonel when appointed Aide-de-Camp to his father, William IV, King of Great Britain (b. 1765, r. 1830–1837), on 26 Jul. 1830, but prior to his elevation to the peerage on 4 June 1831. At the time, both men actively served in the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland and of the associated Oriental Translation Committee, for which FitzClarence desired to produce a monograph on the history of warfare in the Islamic world.

After FitzClarence's death on 20 Mar. 1842, his eldest son William George FitzClarence, 2nd Earl of Munster (1824–1901) auctioned a portion of his library through one Mr. Wilmot at their home on 13 Upper Belgrave Street, Belgravia, London on 5 April 1843 which omits this title; however, he later sold another portion through Edmund Hodgson on 22 March 1855. The latter sale catalague contains an entry for this work in ‘8 vols., folio, old morocco (2 half-bound)’ which may reference this set (see catalogue). The seller's copy records it sold for £6-12-6; however, it omits the name of the purchaser.

Nevertheless, barrister and orientalist William Hook Morley (1815–1860) evidently acquired these volumes, as after his death, S. Leigh Sotheby & John Wilkinson sold them on 16 March 1861 (p. 66, lot 1035), where bookseller Bernard Quaritch (1819–1899) purchased it for £8 2s 1d.

The very next day, 17 March 1861, Quaritch sold the set to Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford (1812–1880) for £12 12s.

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 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.


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.


    Christie's, London. A Catalogue of a very valuable collection of Persian, and a few Arabic MSS. selected many years ago, in the East, by Archibald Swinton, Esq. ... which will be sold by auction, by Mr. Christie, June 6, 1810… (London: W. Bulmer, 1810), pp. 3-4, no. 6 (‘2d Set.’).
    [Edmund] Hodgson, A Catalogue of the Valuable and Extensive Library of a Nobleman... (London: Hodgson's, 1855), p. 57, no. 1414.
    William H. Morley, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Historical Manuscripts in the Arabic and Persian Languages, Preserved in the Library of The Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (London: John W. Parker & Son, 1854), p. 37 Nos. XXVII–XXVIII.
    John Morris and Philip Oldfield, Fitzclarence, George Augustus Frederick, 1st Earl of Munster (1794 - 1842) (Stamp 1)' British Armorial Bindings. Toronto: The Bibliographical Society of London and University of Toronto Library, Feb. 2012. Accessed 17 Apr. 2022.
    Sotheby and Wilkinson, Catalogue of the valuable oriental, miscellaneous and legal library, of the late W.H. Morley ... also, of his valuable collection of Persian and other oriental manuscripts, and some miscellaneous articles. (London: J. Davy and Sons, printers 1861), p. 66, no 1035.

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute


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