Manuscript history of Persia, with interesting provenance

Qazvini, Sharaf al-Din Fazlullah. Kitab al-Mu'jam fi athar muluk al-ajam.

Persia, 1847 CE.

Tall 4to (175 x 295 mm). 149 ff. Persian manuscript on polished paper. Black nasta'liq script with significant words and phrases picked out in red, ruled in red, green, black, and blue. With illuminated 'unwan and two pages of elaborate gold floral border. 19th century brown morocco, ruled and tooled in gilt.


A beautiful manuscript of this history of ancient, pre-Muslim Persia, decorated with an intricate gold and blue 'unwan headpiece and two pages of gold-decorated margins, once owned by a family friend of Oscar Wilde.

The famous chronicle was composed by Sharaf al-Din Qazvini (d. 1339 CE) for the ninth Atabak of Luristan, the Hazaraspid ruler Nusrat al-Din Ahmad (d. 1330 CE). Nusrat al-Din Ahmad is remembered as a prolific patron of Persian literature, and the "Kitab al-mu'jam" was one of two historical chronicles he commissioned during his reign. At the conclusion of this finely produced manuscript, its anonymous scribe recommends himself to the reader as "the smallest of [all] sayyids", who has copied it in haste, begs forgiveness for mistakes, and asks the readers to correct any mistakes they find.

Sixty-six years after the manuscript was completed, it acquired an interesting provenance: on the front free endpaper, an ownership inscription reads, in French, "À Sir Coleridge Kennard, en souvenir de G. Romonovsky, Teheran le 10 janvier 1913". Coleridge Kennard (1885-1948) was a British baronet who served in the British Diplomatic Service from 1908 to 1919, but who was more famous for his marital exploits, and his family's connections to Oscar Wilde. Shortly before his move to Tehran, Kennard had persuaded the wife of the Welsh owner of Castle Gorford to divorce her husband and marry him in Tehran in six months' time - there being a six month waiting period to remarry after a divorce under British law. Unfortunately for his fiancée, before the marriage could go through, Kennard had met and married the daughter of a British diplomat in Tehran, where he would remain for several years.

The identity of the gifter is less certain, but it is not impossible that this manuscript, gifted "in memory of" G. Romonovsky, was at some point owned by or associated with Prince Georgii Romanovsky of Russia (1852-1912), who often spent time abroad among European high society, and who had passed away the year before.


With possible previous ownership or association with Prince Georgii Romanovsky of Russia (1852-1912). Gifted in 1913 to Coleridge Kennard (1885-1948), British baronet who served in the British Diplomatic Service from 1908 to 1919, with gift inscription indicating the same in French.


Covers professionally repaired at extremeties. Several leaves with closed tears along the delicate ruled lines. In good condition.

Stock Code: BN#63124 Tags: , , ,