[IRAN / MANUSCRIPT / MAGIC] Risâla der-ma'rifat-e taqvîm. [i.e. Tractate of ingenuity of the Calendar]
MUHAMMAD KÂZIM ISFAHANÎ, (?-1876), Manuscript, probably Iran, [ca. late 19th century, pre-1872].
Original full morocco with traditional geometric decorations on the boards and borders. Cr. 8vo. 19 x 14 cm). In Persian. 49 leaves (98 p.), illustrations (floral design to the marginalia, two 'kürre's [i.e. magical spheres], three tables, one detailed decorative 'serlevha' [i.e. head] design with apparently pre-Islamic depictions, and hand-colored scenes from the folk tales). The handwritten process lasted from 1831 to the 1870s, from the first Hegira date in the majmua AH 1247 [AD 1831] to the last 'tamalluq' [i.e. the ownership] register date AH 1288 [AD 1872]. It's written on different pages, from mostly polished paper (some with watermark) to laid paper and to thin greenish, yellowish, and beige papers, in ta'liq script in black and red inks. Occasional foxing on the pages, several papers attached to strengthen the hinges in the contemporary period, light stains on a few pages, chipped extremities, and paper sticking due to water damage; overall a well-preserved and good copy.
Extremely rare Persian manuscript in a form of the late 19th century 'majmua' attributed to Muhammad Kâzim Isfahanî as the founder of Tawusiyya (also known as Gonabadi) order in Iran, which is a collection of different subjects including magic and clairvoyance by making use of the hidden features of letters, words, and prayers sometimes with objects based on the school and rituals of the heretic Tawusiyya order of the Shi'a, with a short chapter of the Middle Eastern folk tale 'Shirin and Farhad' with attractive illustrations.
This attractive manuscript gives a key to the abjad numerals on the recto of the pastedown. The first decorative head including the title of the book in red ink says "Hadha Kitab shari' taqwim min talîfât" [i.e. Written sharia calendars] and the text starts with basmala and praise to God. The margins of the title page are colored navy blue, and the following page has marginal ornaments and colors. All pages have "reddâdes" which makes it easier to read and follow the pages in manuscripts without page numbers as we present. Attractive tables and illustrations include secret magical rituals by making use of the hidden features of letters, words, and prayers based on the earliest Gonabâdî school. The text might be divided into three parts, consisting of magical rituals and in the last chapter, a Middle Eastern folk tale "Shirin and Farhad" with attractive hand-colored illustrations. The copyist's name is not indicated on the last bibliographical page. Overall an interesting and rare manuscript.
The Gonabadiyya (or the Gonabadi Dervishes) is the largest of the three main Nimatullahi orders and the predominant Shie Sufi silsila (chain of spiritual authority) in Iran. The order is a Shiite Sufi group that emerged in Iran attributed to Muhammad Kazim Isfahani and is generally considered heretics by the Shia.
Rahmat Ali Shah (d. 1861) was the last universally accepted master of the Nimatullahi order in Iran. He was the deputy governor of Fars under Mohammad Shah Qajar. In his time, the order had reached the peak point of its external power. After his death, there were three claimants to his succession: Munawwar Ali Shah, Saadat Ali Shah, and Safi Ali Shah. Consequently, the order had split into three branches. An Isfahani tobacco merchant, Saadat Ali Shah became the Qutb of the Gonabadi branch of the order, and today, this branch is the most crowded Sufi group in Iran. The term "Gonabadi" refers to a city in Khorasan-e Razavi province where Soltan Ali Shah resided. The group primarily resides in Tehran, Isfahan, Khorasan, and Lorestan provinces. Noor Ali Tabandeh is the current grand master of the Gonabadi dervishes.