81 results in English
The Spiritual Couplets
The most significant contribution of Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (popularly known in Persian as Mawlānā, and in English as Rumi, 1207–73), the renowned poet and mystic of Iran, to Persian literature may be his poetry, and especially his famous Masnavi (The spiritual couplets). This work, which is said to be the most extensive verse exposition of mysticism in any language, discusses and offers solutions to many complicated problems in metaphysics, religion, ethics, mysticism, and other fields. Masnavi highlights the various hidden aspects of Sufism and their relationship to the ...
Molla Sadra’s Miscellany
Muḥammad ibn Ibrāhīm Ṣadr al-Dīn Shīrāzī (1571–1640), commonly known as Molla Sadra, was a Persian Islamic philosopher, theologian, and mystic who led the Iranian cultural renaissance in the 17th century. The foremost exemplar of the Illuminationist, or Eshraqi, school of philosopher-mystics, Molla Sadra is commonly regarded by Iranians as the greatest philosopher that Iran has produced and is arguably the single most important and influential philosopher in the Muslim world of the last four centuries. His school of philosophy is called Transcendent Theosophy. Molla Sadra's philosophy and ontology ...
The Book of Kings
Shahnameh Baysonqori is a copy of Shahnameh (Book of kings) composed by the highly revered Iranian poet Abū al-Qāsim Firdawsī (940–1020). The importance of Shahnameh in the Persian-speaking world is comparable that of Homer’s epics in the West. The book recounts in verse the mythological history of ancient Persia and tales of the famous heroes and personalities of Iranian history, from legendary times to the 7th-century reign of Yazdgerd III, the last king of the Sassanid dynasty. The tales are based on earlier historical works, but are mixed ...
Anthology of Ḥakīm Ruknā Masīḥ
This diwan (a collection of poems in Arabic or Persian, usually by a single author) of Persian poems by physician and poet Ḥakīm Ruknā Masīḥ dates from 1638. “Ḥakīm” is an honorific for a wise man or physician. “Masīḥ” (the Christian), which appears elsewhere in the manuscript, was a pen name of the author. It is believed that the poems were dictated by the author to his calligrapher. The manuscript is in four sections, containing qasidas (odes), ghazals (lyric poems), rubaiyat (quatrains), and muqatta't (poetic fragments). The first two ...
Collection of Persian Poetry and Prose
This manuscript in Persian is an untitled Sufi text on meditation containing both poetry and prose. It was completed in early 1520, probably in Herat (present-day Afghanistan) or Mashhad (present-day Iran). The colophon, which is in Arabic, gives the name of the scribe, Mīr 'Alī Ḥusaynī Haravī (circa 1476−1543). The manuscript is on a firm cream-colored paper inlaid into light cream (folios 1−8) or pale greenish-blue margin paper, with the writing enclosed within alternating gold and cream (or green) bands with black ruling. The margin paper is profusely ...
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Collection of Poetry by Kalīm
Abū Ṭālib Kalīm Hamadānī (or Kāshānī, died 1651; 1061 A.H.) was one of the foremost Persian poets of the 17th century. He was born in Hamadan (present-day Iran) but appears to have lived in Kashan (also in Iran) for a sizeable portion of his life—hence the appellation Kāshānī. He received his education in Kashan and in Shiraz before moving to India to serve the Mughal ruler Jahangir (reigned 1605–27). Abū Ṭālib was thus among a large number of Persian poets and literati who left Persia in search ...
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Collection of Poems by Shāhī
Dīvān-i Shāhī (Collection of poems by Shāhī) is a divan (collection) of verse by Amīr Shāhī Sabzavārī (died 1453; 857 A.H.), a prominent Persian poet of the Timurid era who composed in many of the classical forms of Persian poetry. Amīr Shāhī’s poetry belongs to the tradition of Persian mystical love poetry. The collection includes poems composed in the ghazal (a metrical form expressing the pain of loss and the beauty of love), qaṣīda (lyric poem), and rubā’ī (quatrain) forms. Amīr Shāhī was born in Sabzevar (present-day ...
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Collected Poems of Aisha Durrani
This work is a lithographic print, published in Kabul, of the collected poems of 'Āyisha Durrānī, an Afghan poetess from the Durrani family, who was active in the second half of the 19th century. The poems include qasidas (a lyric form) and ghazals (a metrical form expressing the pain of loss and the beauty of love), and are arranged alphabetically according to qāfiya (the effect of rhyme). The collection was compiled during the reign of 'Abd al-Raḥmān Khān, emīr of Afghanistan from 1880 to 1901. The Durrani family led a ...
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Two of the Master Jāmī’s Works on Prosody; Anonymous Treatise on Astronomy
This Persian manuscript dated 1025 AH (1616) contains two works on prosody by Nūr al-Dīn ‘Abd al-Rahmān Jāmī (1414–92), as well as an incomplete, anonymous work on astronomy. Jāmī was a great poet, scholar, and mystic who lived most of his life in Herat, present-day Afghanistan. The 69 leaves of the manuscript are on a variety of papers: thin, pink-colored laid paper (folios 1a−31b); cream-colored laid paper (folios 32a−35b); pink-colored laid paper (folios 36a−37b); cream-color laid paper (folios 38a−40b); light-green-colored laid paper (folios 41a−45b ...
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Selections from the Shāhnāmeh of the Learned Abū al-Qāsim Firdawsi, May he be Blessed and May his Sins be Pardoned
This manuscript from the early 17th century contains selections from the Shāhnāmeh (Book of kings), the epic-historical work of Persian literature composed at the end of the tenth century by the poet Abū al-Qāsim Firdawsī (940–1020). This beloved epic of pre-Islamic Persia (present-day Iran) was widely read in Persia, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. The manuscript contains three half-page paintings showing different battles. The text is preceded by an introduction and table of contents (folios 1b−6b) and is written in black ink in a nastaʻliq script. The pages are ...
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Poetic Collection of Tarzi
Diwan-i tarzi (Poetic collection of Tarzi) contains verses by Ghulām Muḥammad Ṭarzī (1830−1900), mostly concerning piety, ethics, politics, and society in 19th century Afghanistan. Tarzi came from a distinguished background; he belonged to the Mohammadzai sub-lineage of the Durranis, one of two main Afghan Pashtun lineages, the other being Ghilzai. Because of their connections to Muḥammad Yaʻqūb Khān, Tarzi and his family were exiled from Afghanistan in 1882−83 by Abd al-Raḥmān Khān, a kinsman of Yaʻqūb Khān and a rival to the Afghan throne. The feeling of desolation ...
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The Collected Works of Mullah Rahmat Badakhshani
Divan-i Mullah Rahmat Badakhshani (The collected works of Mullah Rahmat Badakhshani) is a divan of Khwaja Rahmat Ullah Badakhshani, a late-19th-century poet from Badakhshan, Afghanistan. The book’s main section includes several forms of ghazal (lyric) poetry. They include ghazal-e char dar char (ghazals in four by four), ghazal-e ka tama-e huruf ash hech nuqta nadara (ghazal poems where the words have no diacritical marks), and ghazal-e laf-o nashr-e muratab (a form in which the subject of the poem appears in the first lines and is then described in detail ...
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Shahnameh
Shahnameh (Book of kings) was composed by the revered Iranian poet Abū al-Qāsim Firdawsī (940–1020). The book recounts in verse the mythological history of ancient Persia and tales of the famous heroes and personalities of Iranian history, from legendary times to the 7th-century reign of Yazdegerd III, the last king of the Sassanid dynasty. Considered the national epic of Iran, the book was widely read throughout the Persian-speaking world. This manuscript copy was made in India in the 17th or 18th century. The text is written in nastaʻliq script ...
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All New Things are Delightful; with Thanks to the Lord the Beneficent; This Souvenir of Close Friends
Sayyid Ahmad Vasliĭ (or Seyyed Ahmad Wasliĭ) Samarkandiĭ (1870−circa 1920) was a writer, teacher, and scholar who was active in Samarkand (in present-day Uzbekistan) in the early 20th century. He was associated with the Jadidist Muslim reform movement, which was active within the Russian Empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Sayyid Ahmad Vasliĭ was supportive of some new methods of teaching, but cautious about wider societal reform. He wrote in Uzbek, Arabic, and Persian on a diverse range of topics, including literature, linguistics, and social issues ...
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Collection of Works from Hakim Sanai
Kitāb-i mustaṭāb-i Kullīyāt-i (Collection of works from Hakim Sanai) contains poetic works of Abu al-Majd Majdud ibn Adam Sanai Ghaznwai (died circa 1150). Abu al-Majd, better known as Sanai, was a famous medieval classical Persian scholar, poet, and mystic, thought to have been born and died in Ghazna (a present-day province in southeast Afghanistan) and also to have lived in Khorasan. Sanai is considered to be the first to compose qasida (ode), ghazal (lyric), and masnavi (rhymed couplet) poems in Persian, and he is famous for his homiletic poetry and ...
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Spiritual Rhyming Couplets by Rumi
Masnavi-e Manawi (Spiritual rhyming couplets) is the famous poetic collection of the medieval ecstatic mystic scholar and Sufi, Mawlānā Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī (1207−73), known in Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Iran as Mowlana or Mawlānā Jalaluddin Balkhi and in the West as Rumi. This Persian manuscript in nastaliq script is a complete 15th century copy of Masnavi, with all six volumes. Narratives, homilies, and commentaries appear throughout. Many stories have stock characters, such as beggars, prophets, kings, animals. Ethical concerns, traditional wisdom, and stories filled with jokes, including ones about ...
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Diwan-e of the Chain of Gold
Diwan-e Silsilat al-Zahab (literally, The collection book of the chain of gold) is a work of Persian literature in verse. It forms volume one of a seven-volume literary collection of Mowlana Noor al-Din Abd al-Rahman Jami (1414−92), the famous Persian scholar, poet, and Sufi. The entire collection is known as Haft awrang (The seven thrones) and was one of Jami’s first major works. Volume one is the longest volume, composed sometime between 1468 and 1486. This manuscript copy seems incomplete, as the final narrative of verses on scholars ...
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Verses in Persian and Chaghatay
This calligraphic fragment includes a number of verses in Persian and Chaghatay Turkish (Turkish spoken in Central Asia). A continuous Persian lyrical poem (ghazal) is written in the top and bottom horizontal rectangular panels. Another ghazal appears written in diagonal in the right and left vertical columns. Both ghazals are by the famous Persian poet Shaykh Sa'di (died 1292) and address moral issues. In the central text panel, verses in Chaghatay Turkish are written in black nasta'liq script on beige paper, surrounded by cloud bands on a gold ...
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Ghazal by Sa'di
This calligraphic fragment contains a ghazal (lyric poem) by the Persian poet Shaykh Sa'di (died 1292 [691 AH]). The verses describe a lover's search for his beloved and his request that she show herself to him. The verses are written in nasta'liq script using white, light blue, red, and yellow ink on a blue paper. Rangin (colored) inks add variety to the composition and are found in a number of calligraphies produced during the 16th century. The corners left open by the intersection of the diagonal verses ...
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Verses by Jami
This calligraphic fragment includes verses composed by the Persian poet Jami (died 1492 [897 AH]), whose full name, Mawlana 'Abd al-Rahman Jami, is noted in the topmost panel. In larger script appears a ghazal (lyric poem) in which a lover sighs about the lack of news from his beloved. The central text frames are bordered on the right and left by illuminated panels and contain a ruba'i (iambic pentameter quatrain) written in smaller script. The quatrain encourages true and eternal love of God rather than passing infatuations: "Every beautiful ...
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Ghazals of Asifi
This calligraphic fragment includes a variety of ghazals (lyric poems) from the Compendium of Poems (Divan) of the Persian poet Asifi. A student of the famous poet Jami (died 1492 [897 AH]) in Herat (present-day Afghanistan), Asifi remained in the Timurid capital city until his death (1517 [923 AH]), even during and after the Uzbek invasions. These particular verses on the fragment's recto and verso portray a lover's madness and his complaints about the pains of separation from the object of his affection. At the end of the ...
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Prayers for Safety and Success
This calligraphic fragment includes verses in Persian praying for the patron's personal well-being and the prosperity of his kingdom. The verses read: "May the world be (your) fortune and the firmament (your) friend / May the World-Creator (God) protect (you) / May all your works be successful / May God of the World look after you / May your heart and your kingdom be collected and well-frequented / May division stay far away from your realm." The verses are executed in black nasta'liq script on beige paper. They are framed by cloud bands ...
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Verses by Hilālī
This calligraphic fragment includes three distinct text panels all executed in Nasta'liq script: one written in black ink on blue paper, another in white ink on beige paper with two illuminated triangles (or thumb pieces) in the upper and lower corners, and a third (lowest on the page) written in black ink on beige paper. All three panels were cut out and placed together, provided with a gold frame, and pasted to a larger sheet of paper decorated with flecks of gold. The blue text panel includes verses composed ...
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Three Bayts (Verses) to a Loved One
This calligraphic fragment includes three bayts (verses) of poetry in the main text panel and ten verses around this panel, creating a textual frame decorated with gold vine and leaf motifs. The entire calligraphic piece is pasted to a paper decorated with blue geometric and vegetal motifs highlighted in gold. The central text panel is topped by an illuminated rectangular panel and includes a decorative triangle in the upper left corner. The verses in the central panel are written in nasta'liq script on a white ground decorated with ...
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The Seductiveness of the World
This calligraphic panel includes three rubā'iyāt (iambic pentameter quatrains) in nasta'liq script on beige or blue papers cut out and pasted onto a sheet from a muraqqa' (album) of calligraphies. The quatrain in the upper-left panel, executed in black on a cream-colored sheet decorated with vine motifs painted in gold, reads: “Everyone whose heart is seduced by the world / Avoid (him) because of the pride of his ignorance / Grab the hem of that (person) who, because of his greatness, / Has left behind the world and its dwellers.” The ...
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Collected Poems
This manuscript, most likely from the second half of the 19th century, is a collection of poems by the great Persian poet Urfi, who lived and worked in Mughal India in the late 16th century (died 1591), and who was known for his splendid and deeply melancholy qasidas (odes). Urfi had a great influence on the development of poetry in Turkey and throughout the Ottoman Empire. The manuscript is from the Bašagić Collection of Islamic Manuscripts in the University Library of Bratislava, Slovakia, which was inscribed on the UNESCO ...
Anthology of Rumi’s Poetry
Divan-i Mawlavī Rumi (Anthology of Rumi’s poetry) is a collection by the great Persian poet, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī, popularly known in Persian as Mawlānā and in English as Rumi (1207–73). The collection includes poems on Sufism, supplications, and philosophy. The manuscript does not have a title page. Every poem is individual and self-contained, and the name of the poet appears at the end of most of the poems. Nothing is known of the copyist, although it is thought that this volume is 19th century.
Book of Akbar
Akbar Namah (Book of Akbar) is a historical discourse on Akbar’s rule in India written by Ḥamīd ullah Shāhabādī Kashmirī, a reputed historian and poet of Kashmir, India. Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar (1542–1605), also known as Akbar the Great, was a Mughal emperor who ruled India from 1556 to 1605. The manuscript was made by an unknown copyist in the 19th century. The fringe of the manuscript is adorned with gold inlaid on each page; the first page is specially decorated with gold inlaid floral designs. The manuscript ...
Shirin and Khusraw
Shirin va Khusraw (Shirin and Khusraw) is a story written in the 12th century by Shaykh Niẓāmī Ganjavi (circa 1140-1202), based on a tale found in Shahnamah (Book of kings), the epic-historical work of Persian literature composed at the end of the tenth century by the poet Firdawsi (circa 940–1020). The legend was well known before Firdawsi and further romanticized by later Persian poets. The story chosen by Niẓāmī was commissioned by and dedicated to the Seljuk Sultan Tughrul and to the sultan’s brother, Qizil Arsalan. This copy ...
The Life of the Prophet
Maghāzī al-Nabī (The life of the Prophet) depicts the life of the Prophet Muhammad in poetical form. The original work was composed by a famous Arabic and Persian scholar of Kashmir, Ya‘qub Ṣarfī (1521–95). The unique poetic and biographical work, transcribed in two columns on each page of manuscript, includes some supplications and eulogies for the Prophet of Islam. Each column is bordered in lines inlaid with gold. The writing of the manuscript is clear and vivid.
Treatise on the Rules and Meters of Poetry
Risalat-i‘Urūḍ va Qafiyah (Treatise on the rules and meters of poetry) is about rules and conventions to be followed in writing good poetry. The manuscript, copied in Kashmir, India, in 1677 (1088 AH) from a work by an unknown author, discusses different aspects of the writing of poetry and elucidates the different elements and considerations used in creating good poetry.
The Explanation of the Abridgment on Calculus
The present manuscript preserves an extensive commentary on the 17th-century mathematical treatise Al-Ḫulāṣa fī al-Ḥisāb (The abridgment on calculus), which was composed by Bahā' al-Dīn Al-‘Amilī (1547–1621), one of the leading intellectuals of 17th century Safavid Persia (present-day Iran). Born in the city of Baalbek (present-day Lebanon), Al-‘Amilī was an important figure in many different fields of knowledge, including theology, mysticism, poetry, astronomy, mathematics, and architecture. His main contribution to mathematics, the Al-Ḫulāṣa fī al-Ḥisāb, was well known and is the subject of the commentary by ...
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Beginning of Niẓāmī's "Khusraw va Shirin"
This illuminated folio contains the introductory praise dar tawhid-i Bari (to God and His Unity, or on the Unity of the Creator) of the second book of Niẓāmī Ganjavī's Khamsah (Quintet), entitled Khusraw va Shirin. It continues the text of the first two folios of the book, also held in the Library of Congress, and thus completes the praise of God typically found at the beginning of each book of the Khamsah. This first section is then followed, as seen on this folio, by an examination of the istidlal ...
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The Fainting of Laylah and Majnun from Niẓāmī's "Khamsah"
This folio depicts a well-known passage from the tragic story of Laylah and Majnun described in the third book of Niẓāmī Ganjavī's Khamsah (Quintet). Forcibly separated by the animosity of their respective tribes toward each other, forced marriages, and years of exile in the wilderness, the two ill-fated lovers meet again for the last time before each is to die, thanks to the intervention of Majnun's elderly messenger. Upon seeing each other in a palm-grove outside of Laylah's camp, they faint from pain and extreme passion. The ...
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Sa'di's "Gulistan"
This fragment includes the beginning of Sa'di's Gulistan (The rose garden) on its recto, as well as the work's final page on its verso. The first page includes the title of the work written in white ink on a blue background decorated with orange leaf spirals. The rest of the illuminated top panel contains interlacing flowers and gold panels on a blue ground. A didactic work in both prose and verse, Gulistan was composed in 1258 by the Persian poet and prose writer Shaykh Sa'di Shirazi ...
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Fragmentary Verses
This calligraphic fragment is in very poor condition. The four verses of Persian poetry are interrupted by a number of large holes in the paper. A few words are still legible, however:  “[I want] to see your face again / Seeing your beauty... made my fortune / Hand... without end / [Their] presence made (my) heart and eye happy.” In the upper-right corner appears a pasted gold panel, while the lower-right corner contains the truncated name of the calligrapher, Safi al-Husayni. This calligrapher is otherwise unknown; he may have been active in Persia ...
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Fragmentary Persian Poem
This small calligraphic fragment includes one line of poetry describing a lover's secret passion: “Yesterday I passed by you quickly for fear of the others.” The text is executed in black Nasta'liq script on a brown piece of paper, and it is framed by cloud bands and placed on a gold background filled with subtle decorative motifs. Several illuminated panels frame the top and bottom horizontals, while two black and gold borders decorate the right and left verticals of the text panel. The composition is pasted to a ...
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Verses from Niẓāmī's "Divan"
This calligraphic fragment includes several verses from the Divan (Compendium of poems) by Niẓāmī' (1140 or 1141–1202 or 1203). After a beginning invocation to God, the verses describe how certain things and people fulfill particular roles in the world: “(For) every idol that they fashioned / They sewed a robe the size of its body / Not everyone can be the confidant of power / Not every donkey can carry Jesus.” The verses are executed in dark-brown ink on a beige paper framed by a blue border. The text is pasted to ...
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Praise (Madh) to 'Ali
This calligraphic fragment includes four lines of Shi'i poetry encouraging the talib (seeker) to derive spiritual knowledge of God by means of understanding the Prophet's son-in-law, 'Ali. The verses read: “Oh seeker, search for the secret of Truth (God) from (His) Names / From the Name, search the epitome of What is Named / From the essence of 'Ali recite the name of the Exalted One / And from the name of 'Ali search the favor of the Lofty One.” These verses draw on the symbolic dichotomy between al-ism (the name ...
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Quatrain on the Virtue of Patience
This calligraphic fragment includes a ruba’i (iambic pentameter quatrain), on the need for endurance. The verses read: “I went to the doctor, asked about my severe pain / (And) what could he do for my lovesickness / He ordered as a drink the blood of liver and water of the eye / I said: ‘What kind of food (is that)?’ and he answered: ‘You must eat liver.’” The doctor recommends his lovesick patient to jigar khwurdan (endure, literally, “eat liver”) the pains of love, as there is no medicinal potion that will ...
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Verses on Perceived Value
This calligraphic fragment includes a Persian poem that describes how luxury goods such as semi-precious stones and furs are devoid of any inherent worth. Beginning with an invocation to huwa al-muizz (God, the Glorified), the verses read: “I suppose your throne is made of crystal and jasper / Everyone who has an eye knows that they are just stone / That seat made from weasel and ermine (and with) a banner / To those who sit in wicker is but skin.” The calligrapher Muhammad Mahdi Husayni states that he has written these lines ...
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Insha'
This calligraphic fragment belongs to a series of 22 literary compositions or letters written by the calligraphers Mir Kalan, Khan Zaman (son of Khan Khanan), Qa'im Khan, Lutfallah Khan, and Mahabat Khan. Judging from the script (Indian Nasta'liq), a seal impression bearing the date 1113 AH/1701–2, and a letter mentioning the city of Jānpur in India, it appears that these writings were executed in India during the 18th century. The calligraphies are typically written a hasty Nasta'liq on white paper, framed in blue, and pasted ...
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