Kitāb al-ḥiyal fī al-ḥurūb wa-fatḥ al-madāʾin wa-ḥifẓ al-durūb كتاب الحيل في الحروب وفتح المدائن وحفظ الدروب Ibn Mankalī, Muḥammad ابن منكلي، محمد

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The record is made up of Codex A collection of pages, usually gathered into quires, and bound between covers. ; ff. vi+224+v. It was created in 16th century-17th century. It was written in Arabic. The original is part of the British Library: Oriental Manuscripts.

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A manual on the military arts supposed to have been discovered in the tomb of Alexander the Great at Alexandria and translated from Greek into Arabic (see ff. 2v, line 7-3r, line 2). In fact, the author is thought to be the mamluk general and tactician Muḥammad Ibn Mankalī or Ibn Manjlī (محمد بن منكلي or ابن منجلي, active 1362-1376). The title of the work is found on f. 2v, lines 5-7). A list of twenty-one chapters (أبواب) into which the text is said to be divided is given on ff. 3r-4r, but many other subdivisions (also called أبواب) are found in the work. The volume contains one table of inflammable oils (f. 71r-v) and fifteen diagrams of mechanical devices (ff. 148r, 149, r, 150r, 151r, 152r, 153r, 156r-v, 157v, 158v, 160r, 161r, 162v, 163v, and 164v), all of which diagrams appear in the 'Chapter on gears (باب الدواليب, begins on f. 146v)'.

The title page (f. 1r) gives the title as ' The Book of War Machines found amongst the Treasures of Alexander Son of Dārāb the Byzantine (al-Rūmī), known as the Two-Horned (Dhū al-Qarnayn), translated from Greek into Arabic (كتاب الحيل في الحروب مما وجد في دخائر الإسكندر بن داراب الرومي المعروف بذي القرنين ونقل من اليوناني إلى العربي)'.

Begins (f. 1v, line 2-7):

الحمد لله دي النعم والألاء والإفضال

والكرم خالق البرايا وبارئ النسم الذي

أوجد الوجود بحكمته من العدم وعلمنا

منه بلطفه ما لم نكن نعلم وفضلنا بكرمه

على سائر الأمم برسوله المصطفى سيد العرب

والعجم صلى الله عليه وعلى آله وسلم ...

Ends (f. 224v, lines 5-8):

... فإن أسلحتهم رثة واعتمادهم

على الرجلة الأماكن من بلاد كابل والدبيل والزابلين

وجل عتماد الهند على التراس والخفة عند الرجلة

وخفة الأيدي باستعمالهم السيوف ...

Colophon Section at the end of a manuscript text. (f. 224v, lines 8-9):

... تم الكتاب

بحمد الله وعونه وحسن توفيقه

Extent and format
Codex A collection of pages, usually gathered into quires, and bound between covers. ; ff. vi+224+v
Physical characteristics

Material: Paper

Dimensions: 267 x 182 mm leaf [165 x 110 mm written]

Foliation: British Museum foliation in pencil and previous western Arabic numeral foliation in black ink; where the two foliations correspond, often no pencil foliation has been added; there are two consecutive folios marked 55 in the ink foliation and this has not been rectified in the pencil foliation; quire Collection of papers folded in half and stitched together to form a gathering of folios. marks (quinions) have been appear in eastern Arabic numerals in black ink

Ruling: Misṭarah ; 9 lines per page; vertical spacing 6 lines per 10 cm

Script: Naskh

Ink: Black ink, with rubricated headings; on replacement folios 4 and 224 the red ink has become silver; diagrams painted in red, green and yellow

Binding: Western binding in vermillion leather with gilt tooling; fore-edge, head and tail gilt; yellow and green marbled pastedown

Condition: Very minor water damage, some grime and fingerprints; minor repairs to front paper vi and ff. 1-7 and 216-223; ff. 4 and 224 have been replaced on paper bearing the tre lune watermark (f. 224) and initials GM (f. 4)

Marginalia: Very few

Seals: f. 1r

Written in
Arabic in Arabic script

Archive information for this record

Access & Reference

Original held at
British Library: Oriental Manuscripts
Access conditions


Archive reference
Add MS 14055

History of this record

16th century-17th century (CE, Gregorian)
Immediate source of acquisition

Purchased at the sale of the Earl of Munster's library, 6 April 1843 (lot 151)

Related material

Finding aids

Cureton, William and Charles Rieu, Catalogus codicum manuscriptorum orientalium qui in Museo Britannico asservantur. Pars secunda, codices arabicos amplectens (London: The British Museum 1846-71), Item 1155, pp. 527-8

Select Bibliography


  • Ibn Manjlī, Muḥammad, al-Ḥiyal fī al-ḥurūb wa-fatḥ al-madāʾin wa-ḥifẓ al- durūb , Nabīl Muḥammad ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz Aḥmad, ed., (al-Qāhirah: Maṭbaʿat Dār al-Kutub al- Miṣrīyah, 2000)

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Kitāb al-ḥiyal fī al-ḥurūb wa-fatḥ al-madāʾin wa-ḥifẓ al-durūb كتاب الحيل في الحروب وفتح المدائن وحفظ الدروب Ibn Mankalī, Muḥammad ابن منكلي، محمد, British Library: Oriental Manuscripts, Add MS 14055, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 10 December 2023]

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