Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 805 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: The fifth 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. Originally completed as part of a set with Persian MS 804, then later combined with other disparate volumes and uniformly bound with Persian MS 801, 802, 803, 806, with Persian MS 807 and 808 added later.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Textblock of thin-weight, cross-grained, naturally buff-coloured paper probably handmade in the Indian subcontinent, with ~8 laid lines per cm and no discernible chain lines, with folio 215 replaced with a comparatively thin, straight-grained, straw-coloured sheet of laid paper, also likely handmade in the Indian subcontinent, with ~9 lines per cm and no discernible chain lines.
Extent: 273 folios, 6 flyleaves (ff. iii + 273 + iii).
Dimensions (leaf): 247 × 160 mm.
Dimensions (written): 172 × 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 water stains, mould damage, ink transfer, and discolouration 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, likely by Muḥammad Shafī‘ bin Maḥmūd Khubābidī who completed Persian MS 804.

The explicit on folio 215a written in black nasta'līq by an unidentified hand to restore the missing folio.


Folio 1a bears a hastily rendered header gold featuring chain lines in thin black and floral scrollwork, consistent with Persian MS 804.

Marginal ruling throughout in gold outlined with thin single and double black lines.

Additions: Inscriptions:
  • Folio 1a bears the title and volume number in Latin script at top, along with the obliterated signature of a former owner. Underneath that, a Persian notation also denotes the title and number of the volume, stating that it entered the library of an unnamed individual on 8 Muḥarram 1126 AH (24 Jan. 1714). The Hindu-Arabic numberals ‘24’ and ‘214’ appear at left.
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 11’ 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 spine label blocked with Swinton's arms adhered to the uppermost 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 over a flat core, with the tailband measuring 22mm high. Covered in full, bright green calfskin leather, tight-backed and tight-jointed, with 'Antique Spot'-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.

285 × 176 × 37 mm.

Handle with caution. Binding in poor condition. Exterior and board edges abraded, right board cracked, left board broken, and corners bumped. Head and tail abraded, and 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.

Accompanying Material

Fourteen documents inserted at the end, of unknown provenance written in Persian and Ottoman Turkish, and Burmese. ٍRemoved and stored in a separate archival envelope within two internal sling folders, preserving the same order as found. Folder 1:

    • 1: Torn lower half of a single-sided prose text describing events concering Mufakhir al-Kuttāb and Muḥammad Āgha Salam.
    • 2: A vertically folded, single-sided sheet that bears the same unidentified Persian ghazal lyric poem copied twice. A black, octagonal seal impression, intaglio-carved in naskh in an elaborately intertwined tughrā (tuğra) with the name Ḥusayn in the centre.

      12 × 14 mm.

    • 3: Torn upper half of a single-sided missive in the name of one Sayyid Muḥammad Ḥusaynī Kabuddār concerning Mīr Muḥammad Ḥasan valad-i Sayyid Fatāḥ Husaynī and the late Mīrzā ‘Alī Khān.
    • 4: Torn lower half of a double-sided, vertically folded—now partially split— document that appears to copy several missives in Arabic and Persian.
    • 5: Torn and fragmented upper half of a missive from a Ṣūfi master to one Da'īmā Khānthen later reused for various other notes.
    • 6: Double-sided sheet of murrkabāt, practice lettering of combinations of Arabic letters, with a note written vertically on the left.
    • 7: Double-sided sheet bears a curse written in both Arabic and Persian invoking God ‘Yā Qahhār’ (O Destroyer) to ‘drown them as you drowned Pharaoh...’, and ‘...blind their eyes, blacken their faces, and tie their tongues...’ &c &c.
Folder 2:
    • 8: A long vertical double-sided missive, folded horizontally, possibly addressed to one Rājah Sāhū or fifth Chhatrapati of the Maratha Empire Shahu Bhosale I (b. 1682, r. 1707–1749 CE).
    • 9: A sheet of paper bearing letters of the Burmese alphabet with a note identifying it as frome one of the embassies of Michael Symes (1761-1809) However, this claim appears contradicted by a partial watermark, ‘A. Blackwell 1810, hence after Symes' death. Anne Blackwell and Griffith Jones, then both owned and operated Nash Mill in Hemel Hempstead, Hertforshire, the sheet bears 9 laid lines per cm and 22 mm between chain lines.
    • 10: Brief Persian document regarding an transaction, probably dated 4 Dec. 1744.
    • 11: Small double-sided Persian missive draft reused for other notes.
    • 12: Single-sided Ottoman missive, folded horizontally, possibly dated ‘Jumādá II 29’ which mentions the names of Devletlu Maḥmud Efendī and others at top, then Şeyh Aḥmed Efendī, Ibrāhīm Āğā, Derviş Ḥüseyin, Derviş Ismā‘īl, Ibrāhīm Āğā, Hüseyin Āğā, and Emrullah Āğā at the bottom. A black, oval seal impression, intaglio-carved in nasta‘līq script in 4 stacked lines, double-ruled with the name of the missive's author, Ḥusayn

      15 × 17 mm.

    • 13: Double-sided Persian missive, the obverse dated 15 Ẕī al-Ḥijjah 1220 (6 Mar. 1806 CE) mentioning Begam Samru(ca. 1750–1836) and Colonel Louis (possibly Colonel Louis Claude Paethod, d. 1819 documented as one of Samru's pensioners).
    • 14: Double-sided Persian missive written in response to another letter partially dated ‘Monday, 8 Rabī II’, but omits the year.


Origin: Probably completed in the Indian subcontinent; date not indicated due replacement of the final folio; however, probably completed in circa early 1016 AH (mid-1607 CE) by Muḥammad Shafī‘ bin Maḥmūd Khubābidī, who also copied Persian MS 804.

Provenance and Acquisition

Previously entered into an unidentified library in the Indian subcontinent on 8 Muḥarram 1126 AH (24 Jan. 1714) as per a notation on folio 1a.

Likely acquired by Captain Archibald Swinton (1731–1804), when he served in the East India Company from 1752 to 1766, initially 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

Thereafter presented by Ouseley 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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