Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 834 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: This extremely rare, complete copy of the Murāsilāt-i Pādishāhān (Corresponence of Kings), also known as the Majma‘ al-Inshā' (Collection of Ornate Prose) and Murasilāt Ūlū al-Albāb (Correspondence of Great Intellects) by Ibn Abī al-Qāsim Ḥaydar Bayg Ayvāg̲h̲lī (d. ca. 1665), compiles royal epistolography spanning the eleventh to seventeenth centuries CE. Comprised of a brief introduction, two parts, and a conclusion, the first part contains pre-Safavid correspondence, while the second compiles that of the first seven Safavid monarchs, while the following conclusion features writings of prominent intellectuals. The author served the Safavid court for much of his life, from his appointment as Darbān (Doorkeeper) of the royal harem at the capital Isfahan in ca. 1636 by Shāh Ṣafī (b. 1611, r. 1629–1642), then ultimately served as Īs̲h̲ik Āqāsī Bās̲h̲ī (Chief Courtier). He dedicated it to his then-patron, but only he completed it during the reign of succeding ruler, Shāh ‘Abbas II (b. 1632, r. 1642–1666). Since he could access to the royal archives preserving many documents from that era, the work proves an invaluable reference, especially on the Safavid era. Unsigned and undated, notes and seal impressions by prior owners suggest that this manuscript hails from Isfahan, after 1005 AH (1693–94 CE). While the text lacks decoration, the binding bears a unique lacquer cover features rows of vases with floral bouquets interspaced with roundels of small animals, insects, ships, executed in gold.
Incipit: (basmalla) برگ ۱پ (folio 1b): اگرچه فاتحت الکتاب ایـن‌ مجموعه‌ که گلستان هـمیشه بـهار این سپنجی سر است و کشتی نجات طوفان‌زدگان غعم از این سراب دریانماست- دستور العمل ارکان دولت خلافت است؛منشور الادب دیوان‌ عدل و رأفت؛نتیجهء افکار دانش و بینش‌ است؛خلاصهء انظار منتظمان آفرینش است؛فـهرست دفتر دانائی است؛مجمل ارقام‌ جهان آرائی است؛لوح دبستان آداب است؛نسخهء جامعهء مراسلات سلجوقیه اوالاباب است
Explicit: برگ ۴۰۲ر (folio 402b): ...امید آنکه مجموع یاران جمع دوستانی را خاطر جمیع کتاب این مشتی خاک بر یشان روزگار که عنان اصطبار ازوست داده درین ورطه خونخوار شاهان بی کنار افتادام گلریز تا ببرکات نقوش قدسیهٔ ایشان ازین صر صرفتاد کرد آب بلا داشته شود و اسلام علی من اتبع الهدی تمت تمت تمت م م م.
Colophon: No colophon.
Language(s): Persian

Few complete copies of this text appear to survive today, and several contain variant entries, with one other complete copy preserved in the collection of Mahdī Bayānī at Tehran University Library no. reportedly completed in 1096 AH (1684 CE). Most refer to two incompleted redactions held in the British Library, Add. 7688 and Or. 3482, for which see Rieu, who provides a detailed assessment of the contents in his various catalogue entries. For other copies held in Iran and Georgia, see Dirāyatī and M. Dirāyatī, Dānishʹpazhūh and Afshār, as well as Khāmchī's analysis of National Library Iran, ms. 1079/fā, and his updated biography of the author. Note that while former owner Duncan Forbes and cataloguer Michael Kerney both describe this volume as dated 1096 AH (1684–85 CE) in the introduction (ironically the same date noted in the Bayānī volume); however, it does not appear there. Nevertheles, a seal impression dated the year before, 1095 AH (1684 CE) supports production at that time. This volume awaits further study in comparison with other surviving copies.

Title: دباچه
Title: جزء‌ اول: محتوي برمنشئات از منه سالفه از زمان سلاطين سلجوقيه تا زمان پادشاهان صفويه
Title: جز‌ء ثانی: منطوي برمكاتبات و مراسلات سلاطين صفويه
Title: فصل‌ اول: مکاتبات و مراسلات زمـان اعـلیحضرت خـاقان‌ صاحبقران شاه اسمعیل علیه‌ الرحمه الله الملک الجلیل
Title: فـصل‌ دوم: مـکاتبات و مراسلات زمان نواب جنت مکان علیین آشیان‌ شاه طهماسب علیه الرحمهء‌ و الغفران‌
Title: فصل‌ سوم: مکاتبات و مراسلات زمان شاه اسـمعیل مـیرزا
Title: فـصل چهارم: در مکاتبات‌ و مراسلات‌ زمان نواب سکندر شأن شاه سلطان مـحمد علیه رحمه
Title: فصل پنجم‌: در مکاتبات و مراسلات زمان نواب‌ گیتی‌ستان‌‌ فردوس‌ مکانی شاه عباس صت علی مرقد الشریف انـوار الرحـمه
Title: فـصل ششم: در‌ مکاتبات‌ و مراسلات‌ زمان نواب خاقان رضوان‌ مکان شاه صفی اثـار الله بـرهانه و جعل الحیثه مکانه؛فصل‌ هفتم‌، در‌ مکاتبات و مراسلات زمان نواب کامیاب سپهر رکاب مالک‌ رقاب اشرف اقـدس کـه انـشاء الله‌ تعالی‌ متصل به زمان‌ صاحب الامر گردد
Title: فـصل ششم: در‌ مکاتبات‌ و مراسلات‌ زمان نواب خاقان رضوان‌ مکان شاه صفی اثـار الله بـرهانه و جعل الحیثه مکانه
Title: فصل‌ هفتم‌: در‌ مکاتبات و مراسلات زمان نواب کامیاب سپهر رکاب مالک‌ رقاب اشرف اقـدس کـه انـشاء الله‌ تعالی‌ متصل به زمان‌ صاحب الامر گردد
Title: خاتمه: مشتمل بر مكاتبات و منشئات اصحاب دانش و ارباب طبيعت‌

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Textblock comprised of a combination of straight and cross-grained, externally sized and polished, butter-coloured paper, probably handmade in the Safavid Empire, with ~7 laid lines per cm and no discernible chain lines.
Extent: 0 folios, 2 flyleaves (ff. i + 0 + i).
Dimensions (leaf): 355 × 213 mm.
Dimensions (written): 227 × 137 mm.
Foliation: Pencilled Arabic page numerals added to the upper corners by former owner Duncan Forbes.


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


In fair condition, with moderate water and insect damage and historical repairs throughout.


Written in 1 column with 20 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Written in clear black nasta‘līq with red subheaders.

  • Folio 1a, top: signed by adjacent to his seal impression.
  • Middle: describes the volume and number of folios
  • Bottom: two ownership notes by Ḥajjī Muhammad Ṣarrāf Iṣfahānī and his son Muḥammad Ṭālib:
    ‘این کتاب از مال حاجی الحرمین الشرفین حاجی محمد حسین صراف’
    ‘این کتاب از مال محمد طالب ولد حاجی محمد حسین صرّاف اصفهانی ’
  • Folio 402b Another ownership note by Muḥammad Ṭālib son of Ḥajjī Muhammad Ṣarrāf Iṣfahānī:
    ‘این کتاب از مال محمد طالب ولد حاجی محمد حسین صرّاف اصفهانی ’
Bookplates: The left pastedown: ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ bookplate with pencilled shelfmark ‘2/A’, and an earlier Lindesiana label ‘Persian MSS Nº. 40’, with the number crossed out and ‘814’ written aside.


Probably bound in the

Sewn. Edges trimmed, and chevron endbands of blue and yellow threads twined at head and tail. Typed spine label

359 × 228 × 40 mm.

Handle binding with caution. In fair but stable condition, with cracks in the lacquer and abrasion to the leather, headcaps torn, and textblock protruding from teh covers due to loose sewing.

Five black intaglio-carved seal impressions on folios 1a to 1b:

1: Folio 1a, top-centre, bears a small rectangular impression in three stacked naskh lines, read from bottom up, single-ruled, which invokes the twelfth Imām Muḥammad Mahdī, hence possibly a namesake seal for a man of that name:
‘یا امام محمد مهدی’
9 × 1o mm.

2: Folio 1a bears a single impression of Edward Galley's smaller seal, intaglio carved in one nasta‘līq script line, double-ruled:
11 × 13 mm.

3: Folio 1b bears two oval seal impression of a basmala in three stacked lines of thuluth script against a floral scrollwork ground, read from bottom up, double-ruled, bears a date of 1105 AH (1693–94 AH):
14 × 23 mm.

4: Folio 1b also bears one small rectangular impression in two stacked thuluth lines read from bottom up, single-ruled, which features Qur'ān Sūrah Yā-Sīn, 36:58:
, may also be a namesake seal for a man named ‘Abd al-Raḥīm:
‘سَلامٌ قَوْلًا مِنْ رَبٍّ رَحِيمٍ’
13 × 15 mm.

5: Folio 1a bears another large rectangular impression in two stacked nasta‘līq lines read from bottom up, double-ruled, which bears a rhyming couple that mentions the name of Sayyid Abū al-Fatḥ Mustaqīm, dated 1175 AH (1761–62 AH):
‘مهر سید ابو الفتح مستقیم * نگین بفضل سعادت کریم. ۱۱۷۵’
15 × 19 mm.


Origin: 1096 AH (1684 CE)

Provenance and Acquisition

Subsequently owned or inspected by at least four individuals, 3 of whom left namesake seal impressions on folios 1a and 1b dated 1105 AH (1693–94 AH) and another of Sayyid Abū al-Fatḥ Mustaqīm, dated 1175 AH (1761–62 AH), as well as ownership notes by Ḥajjī Muhammad Ṣarrāf Iṣfahānī and his son Muḥammad Ṭālib on folios 1a and the latter again on 402b.

Later acquired by by Edward Galley (ca. 1750–1804), East India Company Resident at Bushire (Bushehr) between 1780 to 1787, where he probably obtained this volume. Ultimately Collector-General of Surat where he passed away, Galley's executors subsequently sold his library there; however, the identity of the purchaser and circumstances of the volume's arrival in Britain remain unclear (see Robinson, p. 209).

Subsequently acquired by London bookseller Henry George Bohn (1796–1884) from an unidentified source and offered for sale in his 1841 catalogue, no. 13638, described in the present binding for 2£ 12s 6d.

Probably purchased from Bohn by orientalist Duncan Forbes (1798–1868). Ultimately appointed King's College Professor of Oriental Languages, Forbes described this volume in his 1866 catalogue, valued at £6 16s and 6d , before he sold his manuscript collection to his publisher W. H. Allen & Co. in exchange for an annuity.

Subsequently sold by W. H. Allen & Co. to Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford (1812–1880) in 1866 for his 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, Manchester.

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 2024 with reference to the manuscript 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.


    Henry G. Bohn, A Catalogue of Books (London, Bohn, 1841), p. 1153, no. 133368 (misprinted 13338).
    M. T. Dānishʹpazhūh and Ī. Afshār, Nashrīyah-'i kitākhānah-'i Markazī Dānishgāh-i Tihrān: darbārih-i nuskhahhāy-i khaṭṭī (Tehran: Dānishgah-i Tihran, 1353 SH (1963 CE)), pp. 45 [Mahdī Bayānī collection dated 1096 AH (1684 CE)] 47173, and 635–637
    M. Dirāyatī and M. Dirāyatī, Fihristgān: Nuskhahʹhā-yi Khaṭṭī-i Īrān (FANKHĀ) (Union catalogue of Iran manuscripts), Vol. 28 (Tehran: Sāzmān-i Asnād va Kitābkhānah-i Millī-i Jumhūrī-i Islāmī-i Īrān, 1392 SH [2013–14 CE]), pp. 166–167 [Tehran, Kitābkhānah Sarāy ‘Ālī-i Kitabkhanah Mīrzā ‘Abd al-‘Aẓīm Khān Qarīb Gurgānī, no. 123 Maybudī MS no. 137, &c.].
    D. Forbes, Catalogue of Oriental Manuscripts, Chiefly Persian, Collected Within the Last Five and Thirty years (London: W. H. Allen., 1866), p. 4, no. 10.
    M. Khāmchī, 'Majma‘ al-Inshā': As̱ār-i Ḥaydar Bayg Ayvūg̲h̲lī', Ganjīnah-'i Asnād, No. 61 (Spring 1375 SH (1996 CE)), pp. 18–22.
    D. N. Marshall, Mughals in India: A Bibliographical Survey. Vol. 1. Manuscripts (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1962), pp. 38–39, no. 113.
    C. Rieu, Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the British Museum, Vol. I (London: British Museum, 1879), pp. 389–391 [British Library Add. 7688].
    C. Rieu, Catalogue of the Turkish manuscripts in the British Museum (London: British Museum, 1888), pp. 83–87 [British Library Add. 7688 and Or. 3482].
    C. Rieu, Supplement to the Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the British Museum (London: British Museum1895), p. 252, no. 398 [British Library Or. 3482].
    B. W. Robinson, 'R.A.S. MS 178: An Unrecorded Persian Painter', Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, No. 2 (1970): p. 209.
    C. A. Storey Persian Literature: A Bio-bibliographical Survey, Vol. I, Sect II, Fasc. 2 (London: Luzac & Co.1936), p. 317, no. 394 and 'Additions and Corrections' .
    C. A. Storey, Persian Literature: A Bio-bibliographical Survey, Vol. III, Pt. 2 (London: Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1990), p. 299, no. 473.

Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute

Soudavar Memorial Foundation


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