Safinah Fragment


This calligraphic fragment is the first page of an album in a longitudinal shape (safinah). At the top are a fine illuminated panel and finial (sarloh) with gold and blue flower and vine motifs. In the upper and lower corners, two gold and blue illuminated triangles (or thumb pieces) fill the spaces between the rectangular frame and the diagonal lines of text. The text is written in black nasta'liq on beige paper. It includes three bayts (verses) praising God and describing humans' inability to comprehend His power: "Praise be to the Creator, whose description is of Greatness, / Who dropped on the dust of inability the wisdom of the Prophets. / If for one hundred thousand years, all created beings / Thought about the depiction of God's glory, / Finally they would admit (their) incapacity / To know God, as we (still) will never know." Around the vertical border of the text panel, the calligrapher (Mir) 'Imad al-Hasani al-Katib ('the writer') has signed his work along with a request for God's forgiveness. Mir 'Imad was born in 1552, lived in Herat and Qazvin, and settled in Isfahan (then capital of Safavid Persia) where, as a result of his implication in court intrigues, he was murdered in 1615. He was a master of nasta'liq script whose works were admired, copied, and collected.

Last updated: April 27, 2016