Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 806 (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. Combined with other disparate volumes and uniformly bound with Persian MS 801, 802, 803, 804, 805, with Persian MS 807 and 808 separately added to complete the set.
Colophon: برگ ۵۶۷ر (folio 567a): ...تحریر في التاریخ سلخ شهر شوال سنه هزار و هشتاد و سه هجرری.
Colophon: Completed end of Shavvāl 1083 AH (mid-Feb. 1673 CE).
Language(s): Persian

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Textblock of thin-weight, naturally buff-coloured, straight-grained, paper probably manufactured in the Indian subcontinent, with ~8 laid lines per cm and no discernible chain lines.
Extent: 567 folios, 6 flyleaves (ff. iii + 567 + iii).
Dimensions (leaf): 256 × 164 mm.
Dimensions (written): 181 × 97 mm.
Foliation: Pencilled Arabic numerals on the upper-left corners of every ten folios of the a sides, then when catalogued.


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


Handle with caution. In fair condition with extensive insect damage, historical repair, and discoloured areas throughout.


Written in 1 column with 19 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


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

Additions: Inscription:
  • Folio 1a bears the title and volume number and an undated signature of a former owner probably named Abū al-Ḥusayn, all in hastily written shikastah.
Bookplates and Pasted Remnants:
  • The third right flyleaf b side (f. iiib) bears the remnants of two printed descriptions, one stating ‘P.p. 123, 185.’, a portion of a catalogue entry for oriental manuscripts Royal Asiatic Society by former owner William Hook Morley that described the contents of this volume.
  • 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 12’ subsequently crossed out.


Uniformly rebound as a set with six other volumes (Persian MS 801 to 805. 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 serpentine strokes 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 tall flat core measuring about 12 mm. Covered in full, emerald 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, but with the top panel where the Earl of Munster's arms blocked in gold on skiver leather now completely degraded. Gilt floriate chain borders on the board perimeters, with floral sprig corners, and board edges tooled with a leaf-and-dart roll.

285 × 184 × 56 mm.

Handle with caution. Exterior and board edges abraded, joints broken, and corners bumped. Head and tail tearing, and headcaps missing. Spine label in the top panel degraded and cracking. Boxed


Origin: Probably completed in the Indian subcontinent; end of Shavvāl 1083 AH (mid-Feb. 1673 CE).

Provenance and Acquisition

Formerly owned by one Abū al-Ḥusayn as per his notation on folio 1a.

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

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.
    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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