Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 847 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: This unsigned and undated volume of the Mas̲navī-i Ma‘navī (Spiritual Couplets) by Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī (1207–1273) bears exquisitely illuminated headers that commence all six books, together with most prefaces. The seals and notations suggest that a Mughal-era scribe probably completed it in the mid-17th century. It thereafter entered the Mughal harem library, as attested by the name of Princess Zīb al-Nisā Baygum (1638–1702), daughter of Emperor ‘Alāmgīr I (b. 1618 r. 1658–1707), and a note dated 29 Safar [1]118 AH (12 June 1706 CE) recording the manusript's presentation to Nawwāb Qudsīyah Alqāb Khūrshīd Fakhr al-Nisā' Baygum (ca. 1675–1733), mother of ‘Alāmgīr's great-grandson—whom she would ultimately see ascend the throne as Muḥammad Shāh (b. 1702, r. 1719–1748)—together with a valuation of ‘100’, presumably rupees.
Incipit: (basmalla) صفحه‌ی ۲ (Page 2): برگ ۱پ بشنو از نی چون حکایت میکند * و ز جدأیها شکایت میکند
Explicit: صفحه‌ی ۷۷۲ (Page 772): در دل من آن سخن زان میمنه‌ست * زانک از دل جانب دل روزنه‌ست
Colophon: No colophon.
Language(s): Persian

For other copies of this work held in the Rylands, see Persian MS 17, 21, 72, 213, 236, 250–255 (Books I–VI), 795, 848, 926, 983 (Book I), and 984, the last being the earliest, completed in 9 Muḥarram 758 AH (2 January 1357 CE), about 85 years after the author first composed it. For critical editions, see Isti‘lāmī and Furūzānfar. For a recent English translation of the first two books based on the former edition, see Williams. For earlier translations, see Arberry, Nicholson, and Whinfield.

1. Page 2
Title: Book One
Title: دفتر الاوّل
Title: Daftar-i Avval
2. Page 126
Title: »Second Preface
Title: دیباچه‌ی دوّم
Title: Dibāchah-yi Duvvum
3. Page 127
Title: Book Two
Title: دفتر دوّم
Title: Daftar-i Duvvum
4. Page 238
Title: Book Two Colophon and Book Three Preface
Title: انجامه‌ی دفتر دوّم و دباچه‌ی دفتر سیوم
Title: Anjāmah-yi Daftar-i Duvvum va Dibāchah-yi Daftar-i Sīyūm
5. Page 250
Title: Book Three
Title: دفتر سیوم
Title: Daftar-i Sīyūm
6. Page 389
Title: Fourth Preface and Book
Title: دباچه‌ و دفتر چهادم
Title: Dibāchah va Daftar-i Chahārum
7. Page 500
Title: Fifith Preface
Title: دباچه‌ی پنجم
Title: Dibāchah-yi Daftar-i Panjum
8. Page 501
Title: Book Five
Title: دفتر پنجم
Title: Daftar-i Panjum
9. Page 629
Title: Sixth Preface and Book
Title: دباچه‌ و دفتر شیشم
Title: Dibāchah va Daftar-i Shīshum

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Written on thin, cross-grained, flocked, evenly formed, ivory-coloured, externally sized and polished paper, probably handmade in the Indian subcontinent, with ~9 laid lines per cm. and few discernible chain lines.
Extent: 762 pages, 5 flyleaves (pp. ii + 762 + iii).
Dimensions (leaf): 257 × 161 mm.
Dimensions (written): 195 × 106 mm.
Foliation: Individual books originally foliated in Hindu-Arabic numerals on the upper-left corners of the a sides in black.
Foliation: Pencilled Arabic numerals at the top-centres of the pages that omit numbers 240–249, hence over by ten.


Undetermined, but probably primarily quaternions throughout. Catchwords on the lower-left corners of the b sides throughout.



Written in 1 to 4 columns with 20 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Written primarily in black nasta‘līq with subheaders in red.


Six highly refined illuminated headers commence all six books, as well as occasional prefaces and postscripts.


  1. Page 2, Book One
    101 × 106 mm.
  2. Page 126, Second Preface
    126 × 106 mm.
  3. Page 127, Book Two
    85 × 106 mm.
  4. Page 138, Book Two Colophon and Third Preface
    48 × 106 mm.
  5. Page 250, Book Three
    80 × 106 mm.
  6. Page 389, Fourth Preface
    52 × 106 mm.
  7. Page 389, Book Four
    17 × 106 mm.
  8. Page 500, Fifth Preface
    82 × 105 mm.
  9. Page 501, Book Five
    51 × 105 mm.
  10. Page 629, Sixth Preface
    97 × 105 mm.
  11. Page 629, Book Six
    10 × 105 mm.

Ruling: Margins ruled with a wide gold band outlined with single interior and double exterior black lines. Vertical column dividers also in comapratively narrow gold, outlined with single black lines.

Marginalia: Notes written in various hands througout.
Inscriptions: Page 1 bears several signed notations by former owners or associates:
  1. Top-Left: A brief, partially legible note counts the number of folios within the first book. Similar notations appear in the same position on all subsequent books.
    ‘چهل و هشت جمله
    ۴۸ عدد’
  2. Top-Centre: To the right of seal no. 1, the name of Zīb al-Nisā Baygum (1638–1702):
    ‘النسا بیگم
    Note that whether this would constitute her signature written by her own hand, or that of an attendant awaits confirmation.
  3. Centre-Left:A lengthy note written in elegant shikastah script, signed by Navvāb Qudsīyah Alqāb Khūrshīd Fakhr al-Nisā' Baygum (ca. 1675–1733), mother of the Mughal ruler Muḥammad Shāh (b. 1702, r. 1719–1748) dated 29 Safar [1]118 AH (12 June 1706 CE) with a value of 100 rupees.
    ⟨حضرت بیگم⟩ ‘نواب قدسیه القاب خورشید اختجاب پادشاهزاده‌ٔ جهان فخران نساء ) فاطمه ۲۹ نوزدهم صفر سنه ۴۹ مطابق سنه ۱۱۱۷ بطریق انعام مرحمت شده. قیمت ۱۰۰.’
  4. Centre: a brief inspection notice written in hasty shikastah underneath seals nos. 2 and 3, dated regnal year ‘23’, probably that of Ẕū-al-Hijjah (1153 AH/7 March 1741).
    ‘نوزدهم شهر ذو الحجه سنه ۲۳ عرض دیده شد.’
    Note that a copy of al-Kāshif 'an Haqā'iq al-Tanzīl by Zamakhsharī (Islamia College, no. 52, f. 492), bears an similar inscription written the previous day (See Seyller, p. 332).
  5. Bottom: A lengthy transfer statement dated 2 Safar Jumādá II 1116 AH (2 Oct. 1704 CE) and signed by Muḥammad Bāqir that describes the volume and its earlier provenance as an offering (pīshkash) by Rūh Allāh valad-i ‘Ināyat Allāh Khān:
    ‘مثنوی مولوی روم تمام با سرلوح و مجدول مبطلا و تحریر، کاغذ داغدار و جلد مستعمله لفافه‌دارائی سرخ بابت پیشکش روح‌الله ولد عنایت‌الله خان دوم شهر جمادی الاخر سنه ۴۸ مطابق سنه ۱۱۱۶ تحویز محمد باقر شد. ’
  6. Bottom-Left: Underneath seal no. 4, a damaged, partially legible notice documents transfer of the volume from tahvīldār Khvājah Dawlat, to Muḥāfiẓ Khāndated 11 Rabī‘ II year 15, possibly either that of Emperors Farrukh Siyar (b. 1687, r. 1713–1719, hence 1130 AH (14 Mar. 1718 CE) or Muhammad Shah, therefore, 1137 AH (28 Dec. 1724 CE):
    ⟨حضرت بیگم(؟)⟩
    مثنوی مولوی روم علیه رحمه یازدهم ۱۱ شهر ربیع الثانی ⟨ازو حره(؟)⟩ خواجه دولت تحویلدار ⟨ امین تحویل ؟ محافظ خان شد⟩.’
    A Qur'ān manuscript held in the Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, no 205, bears a similar inscription with the regnal year 15, (see Seyller, p. 321, although he attributes it to Shah Jahān's reign), and in many instances, Dawlat is specifically described as the tahvīldār of the harem.
  7. The left pastedown bears a British bookseller's price of ‘£2.10.0’, partly covered by the Lindesiana bookplate.
Bookplates: The left pastedown: ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with shelfmark ‘F/11’ and class mark ‘Persian MSS Nº. 53’ with the number crossed out and ‘926’ written aside.


Probably originally bound in the Indian subcontinent then probably subsequently repaired in Britain.

Resewn on four recessed cords, flyleaves (ii, iv) of medium-weight, straight-grained flocked, sized and polished, straw-coloured, paper, probably handmade in the Indian subcontinent added at the beginning and end, edges trimmed, but endbands omitted. w. Recased in the original full dark maroon-coloured heavily grained morocco goatskin leather over pasteboards, with highly polished bright red internal doublures probably added when restored, the excess widths adhered as hinges at front and back flyeaves to connect the cover to the textblock, but without any additional strips applied over top to disguise the joins as typically seen on other volumes. Later cord-filled headcap repairs executed in calf leather.

Boards centres decorated with recessed blind stamped paper scalloped central mandorlas and detached pendants with horizontal cartouches between, the surrounding inner board margins decorated with the same cartouches alternating with quatrefoils and cornerpieces, all decorated woth quintafoil floriate scrollwork, with exterior margins of foliate palmette scrollwork designs. Internal doublure interior and exterior margins hastily ruled in thick and thin tin-coloured lines. Spine later titled in gold, likely for former owner Alexander Lindsay.

265 × 178 × 47 mm.

Handle binding with caution. In fair condition, with breaking joints, and subsequent calf headcap repairs cracked, abraded, and exposed. Boxed.

Page 1 bears five different black ink intaglio-carved seal impressions of former owners or associates:

1:Top-left, a rectanglular impression in two stacked nasta‘līq lines, double-ruled, with the pious phrase ‘Kār bi-‘Ināyat’ (Work by Grace), which also implies the name of former owner ‘Ināyat Allāh Khān, father of Rūh Allāh, mentioned in the notation at bottom (see Inscriptions no. 5):
‘کار بعنایت ’
14 × 18 mm.

2: Centre-left, a rectanglular library seal impression in two stacked nasta‘līq lines, single-ruled, possibly with the name of Mughal librarian Muḥyī al-Dīn ‘Alī Khān, dated ‘22’, probably the regnal year of Muḥammad Shāh, 1152 AH (1739–40 CE):
‘مهر کتابخانهٔ محےالدین علیخان ۲۲’
18 × 20 mm.

3: Centre-right, a partially legible circular seal impression in three stacked nasta‘līq lines read upwards, double-ruled, names a Kūthah (storehouse), of Sa‘d al-Dīn Khān, dated 1146 AH (1733–1734 CE).
‘ مهر کوتهه سیعد الدین خان ۱۱۳۴’

~29 diam.
For a complete, legible impression of this same seal, see British Library Delhi Persian 1110.

4: Lower-left, a circular seal impression in 3 stacked lines, double-ruled, with the name of former owner or associate Rashīd Khānzādah Ḥusaynī dated year 40 ‘Alāmgīrī (corresponding to Dhu al-Qa'dah 1107–Shawwal 1108 AH/Jun 1696–May 1697 CE).
‘رشید خانزاده حسینی بادشاه عالمگیر غازی ۴۰ ’

5: Bottom-centre, a partially legible rectangular seal impression in 3 stacked thuluth lines, single ruled, possibly the name of Kifāyat Allāh Khān (fl. 1660–1670).
‘کفایت الله خان’
13 × 16 mm. Published, Seyller, p. 164, fig. 19, who identifies it as regnal year 7, albeit not apparent here.

Accompanying Material

  • Four notes written on inserts 1a, 2a, 3a, 4b, as well as an added bifolium errouneously counted with the text when foliated as pages 185–188.
  • Insert 5a, a bifolium mounted on the final left flyleaf a side (f. via), bears a note in Italian evidently written by an unidentified prior owner that describes the work.


Origin: Probably completed in the Mughal Empire; ; undated, but probably early-mid-17th century CE.

Provenance and Acquisition

Subsequently owned or inspected by at least seven individuals in the Mughal Empire, including members of the royal household. The earliest may be the undated namesake seal of ‘Ināyat Allāh Khān, as inferred from as note by librarian Muḥammad Bāqir (dated 2 Safar Jumādá II 1116 AH/2 Oct. 1704 CE) in which he describes the volume and how ‘Ināyat Allāh Khān's son Rūh Allāh, presented it as an offering (pīshkash).

Seal impression of Kifāyat Allāh Khān (fl. 1660–1670), which appears on many volumes formerly held in the Mughal library, followed by that of Rashīd Khānzādah Ḥusaynī dated year 40 ‘Alāmgīrī (1107–1108 AH/1696–1697 CE), and the name of Princess Zīb al-Nisā Baygum (1638–1702).

Transfer note by Muḥammad Bāqir dated 2 Safar Jumādá II 1116 AH (2 Oct. 1704 CE), then thereafter presented to Nawwāb Qudsīyāh Fakhr al-Nisā' Baygum (ca. 1675–1733), mother of Mughal ruler Shāh Muḥammad (b. r.) on 29 Safar 1118 AH (12 June 1706 CE), then valued at 100 [rupees].

11 Rabī‘ II [possibly year 15 of Shāh Jahān's reign/1641–42 CE], which records transfer of the volume from Khvājah Dawlat, the tahvīldār to Muḥāfiẓ Khān.

Transfer from tahvīldār of the harem Khvājah Dawlat, to Muḥāfiẓ Khān on 11 Rabī‘ II year 15, possibly either that of Emperors Farrukh Siyar (b. 1687, r. 1713–1719, hence 1130 AH (14 Mar. 1718 CE) or Muhammad Shah, therefore, 1137 AH (28 Dec. 1724 CE).

Seal of the treasury (Kūthah) of Sa‘d al-Dīn Khān dated 1146 AH/1733–34 CE). Inspected again by Muḥyī al-Dīn ‘Alī Khān (seal dated regnal ‘22’ [probably of Muḥammad Shāh's reign], 1152 AH (1739–40 CE). However, the circumstances under which this manuscript departed the Shāhjahānābād (Dehli) for the Italian peninsula remains unclear; however, it may possibly have been among volumes dispersed from the library after the defence of Dehli.

Thereafter acquired by an unidentified Italian individual who appended a description of the work to the end of the volume.

While the circumstances under which this volume arrived in Britain remain unclear, an unidentified British bookseller evidently offered it for sale for £2 10 shillings. Thereafter acquired by Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford (1812–1880) 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 2022 with reference to the volume in hand, and in consultation with Ursula Sims-Williams and Sheida Heydarishovir, British Library, regarding the inscriptions and identifying seal no. 3, also found in British Library Delhi Persian 1110.


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).


Funding of Cataloguing

Iran Heritage Foundation

The John Rylands Research Institute


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