Gulzar Calligraphic Panel


This calligraphic panel executed in black and red on a white ground decorated in gold contains a number of prayers (du'a's) directed to God, the Prophet Muhammad, and his son-in-law 'Ali. The letters of the larger words are executed in nasta'liq script and are filled with decorative motifs, animals, and human figures. This style of script, filled with various motifs, is called gulzar, which literally means 'rose garden' or 'full of flowers.' It usually is applied to the interior of inscriptions executed in nasta'liq, such as this one. The gulzar script was popular in Iran during the late 18th and 19th centuries. This piece, written by the calligrapher Husayn Zarrin Qalam ('Husayn of the Golden Pen') for Husayn Khan Sultan in 1797-98, dates from the early period of Qajar rule in Iran (1785-1925). All around the larger letters composed in the nasta'liq style and filled with motifs are smaller Shi'i prayers executed in a number of different scripts. These include thuluth, naskh, nasta'liq, shikasta, tawqi', and kufi. One inscription is even written in reverse, as if executed with the help of a mirror. The sheer variety of these scripts, along with the larger central gulzar composition, was intended to showcase Husayn Zarrin Qalam's mastery of the major calligraphic scripts.

Last updated: April 6, 2016