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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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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, 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 first verse ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 Nizami 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 Nizami 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 ...
Quatrain on Divine Mercy
This calligraphic fragment includes a ruba'i (iambic pentameter quatrain), a few words of which are lost due to water damage. The poem begins with an invocation to God as "Ya Malak al-Muluk" (the King of Kings) and then praises God's mercy as a torrential rain, which allows humans to find fana' (annihilation) in the Divine. This spiritual blossoming resembles the growth of plants on the surface of a hard stone. On the back of this fragment appears the inscribed attribution "Mawlana Sultan Mīr ʻAlī," intended to identify the ...
Lyric Poems of Hāfiz
Shams al-Dīn Muḥammad Shīrāzī (known as Hāfiz; circa 1320–90) is considered by many to be the greatest lyric poet of Persia (present-day Iran) and one of the most remarkable Eastern poets. Born to a poor family in Shiraz, where he lived most of his life, Hāfiz enjoyed the patronage of Shah Shujah for many years and in his last years that of Timur (Tamerlane). This work presents ghazals (lyric poems) of Hāfiz. As in all Sufi poetry, the ghazals are layered with meanings, from the most basic to the ...
Quatrain Praising Vision
This calligraphic fragment includes a ruba'i (iambic pentameter quatrain), praising vision as the most keen of the human senses. The text is written in black Nasta'liq script on a beige paper decorated with gold paint. The text panel is framed by two borders in beige and gold and pasted to a blue paper decorated with gold flower and vine motifs. Beginning with an invocation to huwa al-mu'izz (God as the Glorified), the verses read: “The heart is a place of sadness and the eye is the site ...