Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Persian MS 874 (The John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester)

Persian Manuscripts


Summary of Contents: The first of an incomplete set of three volumes of the Siyar al-Mutaʼakhkhirīn (Review of Modern Times), together with Persian MS 875 (Vol. 2) and 876 (Vol. 4), with the third volume wanting. The author, Ghulām Husain Khān Ṭabaṭāḅāī (b. 1727 or 8) , a son of Patna Vice-Regent Sayyid ‘Alī Khān and cousin of ‘Alīvardī Khān, Nawwab of Bengal (b. 1676 r. 1740–1756), composed this text in circa 1780–1784, and dedicated it to Governor-General of Bengal, Warren Hastings. A general history of India, it spans the death of the Mughal Emperor ‘Alamgīr I in 1707 until 1195 AH (1781 CE). Since the author relates many eyewitness accounts, historians regard it as a preeminent 18th-century source. Delhi calligrapher Muḥammad Jān, son of Mughal treasurer Mīyan Muḥammad ‘Āshūrī, copied the volume in a bold nasta'liq hand in 1227 AH (1812 CE).
Incipit: (basmalla) برگ ۳پ (folio 3b): سپاس بیقیاس و ستایش سر اساس نثار بیار گاه عزت و عظمت و جلال‌ دادار بیهمال است.
Explicit: برگ ۳۴۷ر (folio 347a): بعد چند روزش جنگ بر مصالخه اختیار آمده به تهیه اسباب افواج موکد و مضمم گردید.
Colophon: برگ ۳۴۷ر (folio 347a): تمت تمام شد بتاریخ بیست و نهم شهر شعبان المعظم سنه ۱۲۲۷ یکهزار و دو صد و بیست و هفتم هجره مقدس علی صاحبهاالف الف تحیه و الثنا از دست بنده محمد جان شاگرد میر ابو الحسن عرف میر کلن سلمه ربه تحریر یافت.
Colophon: Completed by Muḥammad Jān, probably in Delhi, on 29 Sha‘bān 1227 AH (7 September 1812 CE).
Language(s): Persian

Student of Delhi master Sayyid Abū-l-Ḥasan Raz̤avī, known as 'Mīr Kallan' (who copied Persian MS 572), Muḥammad Jān ultimately served as the munshī (secretary) to the last Mughal emperor, Muḥmammad Bahādur Shāh II (1775–1862, r. 1837–1857).

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Medium-weight, straight-grained ivory-coloured handmade paper, manufactured in India, with >1mm between the laid lines and no discernible chain lines.
Extent: 351 folios (ff. i + 351 + i)
Dimensions (leaf): 323 × 212 mm.
Dimensions (written): 236 × 115 mm.
Foliation: Modern pencilled Arabic folio numbers on the upper-left corners on the b sides, inclusive of the first and last historical flyleaves, and with 3a to 3Aa repeated, so off by one thereafter.


Undetermined due to tight opening, but possibly quaternions throughout. Catchwords thoughout on the lower left corners of the b sides.


In good condition, with occasional tipping in the gutter that prevents some pages from fully opening.


Written in a single column with 12 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.


Copied in clear large nasta‘līq script in black ink with subheaders in red.

  • Label:The right board exterior bears a paper label with the Persian title written in nasta‘līq script, and several English inscriptions.

  • Bookplates: The left paste-down: ‘Bibliotheca Lindesiana’ with shelf mark ‘I/B’, and ‘Persian 80’.


Resewn at four stations, probably on cord supports laced or frayed out onto the pasteboards. Twined Islamic-style chevron endbands in red and white. Covered in a later Indian style binding in full, tight backed, red goatskin leather over pasteboards, flush with the edges, and without a flap (type III binding per Déroche). Earlier endleaves of comparatively heavy paper handmade in India, and later flyleaves of European laid paper added when the volume was rebacked.

Gold-stamped onlays of either paper or leather featuring floral designs for the central mandorla, detached pendants, and corners. Boards decorated with a black border ~25 mm wide on the perimeters of the boards, outlined with ruled lines in yellow, with another single line in the centres. Pastedowns of vivid comb-patterned marbled paper manufactured in India. Spine rebacked in smooth, medium-brown goatskin leather, and the boards reattached with hinges of European 'Spanish' wave-patterned marbled paper.

325 × 218 × 39 mm.


Origin: Probably Delhi; completed on 29 Sha‘bān 1227 AH (7 September 1812 CE) by Muḥammad Jān.

Provenance and Acquisition

Subsequently acquired by Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford (1812–1880) possibly from London bookseller Bernard Quaritch (1819–1899) .

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 2021 with reference to the volume.


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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