Persian MS 882 (The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester)
An undated, illustrated miscellany collectively entitled Fīlnāmah (Book of Elephants).
Michael Kerney's handlist misidentifies this work as the better-known Fīlnāmah mas̱navī poem by Rahī, a mahout employed by by the Mughal ruler Jahāndar Shāh (British Library Or. 344, see Rieu, Catalogue, Vol. II, 703b, also listed in Storey, p. 401, no. 680 ). However, a subsequent pencilled note, probably in the hand of Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford, clarifies this volume differs from that work. In fact, it closely compares with British Library Or. 13255 (see Waley catalogue) and Bodleian Ms. Pers. d. 87 (see Beeston catalogue), whereas SOAS ms. 46459 and Wellcome MS Persian 429 (see Keshavarz catalogue) both feature the second anonymous text alone. Other elephant-themed volumes noted by Storey and Munzavī may also likely be variant copies of these same works, under titles.
Written in 1 column with 12 lines per page. Ruled with a misṭarah hand guide.
Written in clear nasta‘līq in black with subheaders and some terms in red.
Nineteen simplistic illustrations depict various elephants, often with one or two keepers.
- The top of the left paste-down bears the number ‘68’ written in pencil.
- The left paste-down bears the ‘Biblioteca Lindesiana’ bookplate with shelfmark ‘F/10’, and an earlier handwritten label at top ‘Persian MSS no. 88 Fíl Namah’, with the number crossed out and ‘882’ added.
Probably originally bound in India, then apparently later restored by the library in the 20th century.
Unsupported resewing with polyester thread, all-along at five stations. Binding originally covered in full mottled brown goatskin leather over pasteboards, without a flap (type III binding per Déroche). Spine later repaired at head and tail with thinned brown goatskin leather.
Boards decorated with flush paper onlays for the central scalloped mandorlas, detached pendants, and corners, repeatedly blind tooled with insular dots. Margins double-ruled in black. Spine panels hand-drawn with triple dots and single flowers, also in black.
222 × 155 × 18 mm.
In good condition, albeit with page openings to the gutter margins restricted.
Provenance and Acquisition
Evidently acquired as an isolated purchase by 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 catalogue by Michael Kerney, circa 1890s and his Bibliotheca Lindesiana, Hand-list of Oriental Manuscripts: Arabic, Persian, Turkish, 1898.
Manuscript description by James White in 2018 with reference to the volume.
Physical description amended and record enhanced by Jake Benson in 2021 with reference to the manuscript in hand, and in consultation with Dr Fabrizio Speziale, Director, l'Ecole des Haute Étude en Sciences Sociale.
Manchester Digital Collections (full digital facsimile)
Funding of Cataloguing
Iran Heritage Foundation, the John Rylands Research, and the Soudavar Foundation