Find Persian manuscripts

Detail from Niẓāmī’s Laylā Majnūn (Or.12208, f. 150v)
Detail from Niẓāmī’s Laylā Majnūn (Or.12208, f. 150v)

Our Persian manuscripts collection includes more than 11,000 works. Details are to be found in a number of catalogues.

Newly catalogued Persian manuscripts are included in the Library’s Explore Archives and Manuscripts. However, details of most of our manuscripts are currently only accessible in printed catalogues and handlists. Some of these are available online and others in our reading room.

We are gradually transferring the contents of the older catalogues into our online catalogue Explore the British Library and we also contribute to FIHRIST, a searchable interface to basic manuscript descriptions from the major Arabic script manuscript collections in the UK. However, until the recataloguing is complete, readers will need to consult the catalogues below to find detailed descriptions of our Persian manuscript holdings. These have been arranged by collection in chronological order.

Persian manuscripts acquired by the British Museum (before 1973) and the British Library (after 1973)

These manuscripts should be ordered with the following prefixes, as appropriate, and followed by the manuscript number:  Or, Arundel Or, Egerton MS, Harley Ms, Sloane MS, Royal MS 16 B, and Stowe MS.

Persian manuscripts acquired by the India Office Library (before 1982)

These manuscripts should be ordered by their manuscript number (not the catalogue number) prefixed by IO Islamic (instead of IO), Delhi Persian (for mss in the Delhi collection) or RSPA (for manuscripts in the Ross and Browne catalogue).

Illustrated manuscripts

  • Titley, N.M.  Miniatures from Persian manuscripts: catalogue and subject index of paintings in the British Library and the British Museum. London, 1974
  • Robinson, B.W.  Persian paintings in the India Office Library: a descriptive catalogue. London & New York, 1976