Display of Wonders


Maẓhar al-ʻajāʼib (Display of wonders) is a collection of poems and litanies ascribed to Farid al-Din ‘Attar (died circa 1230), one of the great Sufi poets of Iran. According to the title page, the selections “are from Attar’s most important writings,” even though there is no indication that they are from his poetic collections and scholars do not recognize Mahar as part of his canon. The verses are in the form of rhymed couplets and sing the virtues of revered figures of Islam, including the Prophet Muhammad, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, and other Shia imams. The work was copied in nastaliq script by calligrapher Muhammad Taqi Hatimi, who was born in Tehran in 1912 or 1913. He was considered a master of the nastaliq and shikasta styles of Persian calligraphy. He produced other books by Attar for the Islamic Press and was employed as calligrapher for the Iranian parliament. Historian Afshin Marashi has written of the commercialization of the book business in Tehran at this time, and this title is representative of the trend. The book was “financed by Kitabchi (bookman) Hajj Sayyid Ahmad, proprietor of the Islamic Bookstore and printed at the Islamic Press.” Hajj Ahmad’s business was located on Nasir Khusraw Street, one of a cluster of printers and booksellers who were changing what might be called their “business models.” The owner could call on reviewers or perhaps consultants, and a staff of printers, as indicated by Hajji ‘Abd al-Rahim, who claimed credit for assisting with the printing. A group of “learned men” reviewed the work and made “detailed corrections.” It was then signed by the calligrapher. As with the Bulaq Press in Cairo, the press itself—rather than the particular titles it produced—have received the most scholarly attention. Maẓhar al-ʻajāʼib, a lithographed publication of the 1930s, is typical of what Marashi terms the transition in printing “from art to commodity,” when late in the decade publishers turned from lithography to typographic printing in crisp naskh typeface with large print runs to accommodate the growing demand of readers in Tehran and throughout the country.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Islamic Press, Tehran

Title in Original Language

مظهر العجائب

Type of Item

Physical Description

304 pages ; 22 centimeters


  1. B. Reinert, “Attar, Farid-al-Din,” in Encyclopaedia Iranica, volume III, number 1 (2011). http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/attar-farid-al-din-poet.

Last updated: May 31, 2017