Persian MS 855 (The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester)
Aḥmad Bihishtī Shīrāzī and Ḥamīd Riz̤ā Qilichkhānī recently edited a critical edition. Rebecca Ruth Gould also recently translated select ghazals into English. For more on the calligrapher and his oeuvre, see Denise-Marie Teece.
2 columns throughout, with 14 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.
Copied in a miniscule nasta‘līq hand in black by Mun‘im al-Dīn al-Awḥadī, with repeating headers written in alternating ultramarine and gold inks.
Carpet Pages: Richly illuminated margins on the opening folios 1b to 2a.
Illumination: A decorated inverse finial appears under the colophon on folio 270a, and also subheaders throughout
Ruling: Vertical column dividers and horizontal section breaks ruled in thin gold outlined in thin single black lines. Surrounding marginal ruling in comparatively thick gold, outlined with a single black interior lines, double black exterior lines, bounded by comparatively thick blue lines.
- First right flyleaf b side (f. ib): ‘D.F. 233’ and priced ‘£5.15.6’, consistent with Duncan Forbes (1798–1868) catalogue, p. 76, no. 233.
- Third right flyleaf a side (f. iiia): bears the title inscribed in Persian in black ink with the transliterated Latin script with the number ‘49’ in pencil and the latter again in sepia.
- Fourth right flyleaf a side (f. iva): bears the title in Devanagari script in black.
- Sixth right flyleaf b side (f. vib): bears the title in Persian followed by poetic excerpts written vertically and horizontally in black.
- Folio 1a bears several notations:
- Top-left: the title written in Devanagari script, followed by what may be Bangla numerals.
- Top-centre: the title written in Persian nasta‘līq, likely followed by an Indian siyāq script numerical notation for lākh, which indicates a price or valuation of 1,000 rupees for the manuscript.
- Centre-left: an Arabic notation declares that the volume came from ‘from among the books of the poor ‘Umar Daftari’ with a distinctive Ottoman-style tughrā (tuğra) signature underneath.
‘ من جمله کتب الفقیر عمر دفتری’
Another Arabic note underneath describes the acquisition of the volume by Muḥammad Taqī bin Muḥammad Riz̤ā al-Rāzī, above his seal impression, ‘in the capital Isfahan in the year 1048 AH (1638–39 CE)’.
‘هو، دخل فی نوبة العبد المذنب الراحی ابن محمد رضا محمد تقی الرازی فی دار السلطنة اصفهان سنه ۱۰۴۸.’
- Centre-right: two unidentified couplets in Persian:
‘پشت فرومای فلک راست شد از خرامی * نا چو نو فرزندزاد از مادری’
‘و فتح دریاب بهر باب که سو(؟) نهر (؟) * نوش وارد(؟) که پس از مرگ بهر آب و نهر’
- Bottom-right: two Arabic ownership notations, the first in legible naskh followed by an illegible oval partial seal impression, the second underneath in partly legible in shikastah, possibly the name of one Quṭb al-Dīn Muḥammad Isḥaq:
‘قد تشرفت تملک هذا الکتاب و انا العبد من اقل الحقیر’
- Folio 270b bears an Arabic supplicatory prayer that invoke the muqaṭṭa‘āt, 14 disjoined letters that commence 29 chapters of the Qur'ān.
- The first right flyleaf a side (f. via) bears an illegible note at top with isolated letters possibly written in the same hand over most of the page underneath, while the upper-right bears a quotation from Naṣīr al-Dīn Muḥammad Ṭūsī (1201-1274) shikastah
- Left paste-down: ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with shelf mark ‘F/10’, with the former class mark ‘No. 61’ crossed out.
Rebound, probably in Britain, in the early-mid 19th century. Abbreviated resewing with European-style decorative front-bead endbands over a flat cord core in solely dark blue indigo-dyed silk threads. Covered in full tan-coloured, 'diced Russia' leather, hollow-backed with five false bands on the spine, but untitled. Endpapers of likely British-made combed-patterned marbled paper stiff-leaved with ivoury-coloured wove paper.
Boards blind-tooled in the European manner with an Islamic-inspired central mandorlas comprised of four impressions with two matching corner tools and bold scrollwork flourish pendants, attached to the centres with blind lines, and bounded by an insular dot roll surrounded by thick-and-lines on the perimeters of the boards. Board edges blind-tooled with a narrow decorative roll feature zig-zags with interspersed trefoils, while the interior dentelles bear a wider roll with a dotted zig-zag and interspersed triangular palmette motifs. Spine blind paletted with thick-and-thin fillet lines on either side of the false raised bands.
199 × 128 × 44 mm.
Binding in good condition. Joint cracking by the head on the left board with frayed headcaps.
1: Folio 1a bears an black oval seal impression, intaglio-carved in two stacked lines in thuluth script, with the name of former owner Muḥammad Taqī bin Muḥammad Riz̤ā al-Rāzī, below his notation: ‘Ghulām-i ‘Alī Muḥammad Taqī’ 13 × 18 mm.
2: Folio 1a bears an black pointed oval seal impression, relief-carved centre in two stacked lines in thuluth, intaglio-carved border in nasta‘līq, single-ruled, possibly with the name of former owner or associate ‘Muḥammad bin Muḥammad’: 13.5 × 20 mm.
3: Folio 14a, lower-left, bears an black oval seal impression, intaglio-carved in nasta‘līq script, in two stacked lines, single-ruled, possibly with the name of former owner or associate Muḥibb Sardīn Muḥammad Qulī: 11 × 20 mm.
4: Folio 270b, upper-right, partial black oval seal impression, intaglio-carved in nasta‘līq script in stacked in two lines on a floral ground, double-ruled, possibly with the name of former owner or associate Dārā 'Ali Beg bin Mihr ‘Ali
Provenance and Acquisition
Subsequently acquired by orientalist Duncan Forbes (1798–1868), who described the volume in his published catalogue (p. 76, no. 233), before he sold his manuscript collection to his publisher W. H. Allen & Co. in exchange for an annuity. Subsequently sold by that firm to Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford (1812–1880) in 1866
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.
Bibliographical description based on an index created by Reza Navabpour circa 1993, derived from a manuscript handlist by Michael Kerney, circa 1890s and his Bibliotheca Lindesiana, Hand-list of Oriental Manuscripts: Arabic, Persian, Turkish, 1898.
Manuscript description by Jake Benson in 2021 with reference to the volume.
Manchester Digital Collections (full digital facsimile)
Funding of Cataloguing
Iran Heritage Foundation and The John Rylands Research Institute