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Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland

You who are searching for sustenance, sit down and eat" Trans. by Wheeler Thackston, The Gulistan of Sa’di, Bethesda,  Ibex Publishers, 2008.


The Royal Asiatic Society was founded in 1823 by the eminent Sanskrit scholar Henry Thomas Colebrooke. It received its royal charter the following year from George IV for the ‘ investigation of subjects connected with and for the encouragement of Science, Literature and the Arts in relation to Asia’. Throughout its history many distinguished scholars have contributed to its work and today it provides an active forum for those who are interested in Asia. It publishes a journal of international standing as well as several books a year. In addition, it organises lectures and seminars on a variety of topics at its premises 14 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2HD.  

The library contains an extensive collection of manuscripts, paintings, photographs as well as an historic archive of papers of eminent scholars. Among the Persian manuscripts, three are of great note, the Shahnama of Muhammad Juki copied in Herat between 1440-5 and considered to be one of the finest Timurid manuscripts of the 15th century, the Gulistan of the poet Sa’di completed in 1583 in Fatehpur Sikri and an autograph copy of Kitab-i Mathnawiyyat-i Zafar Khan copied in Lahore in 1663. 

The three manuscripts are now on long loan to Cambridge University Library and the Royal Asiatic Society is very pleased to make these available to the public. The Society thanks Professor Charles Melville and the Shahnama Project for the digitization of the Shahnama of Muhammad Juki and Dr. Barbara Brend for funding the digitisation of the Kitab-i Mathnawiyyat-i Zafar Khan and Gulistan of the poet Sa’di.