Quatrain by Rumi


This calligraphic piece includes a rubaʻi (iambic pentameter quatrain) composed by the Persian poet Rumi (1207−73). Written diagonally in black nastaʻliq script on a white-and-blue marbled paper, the text is also decorated by four illuminated triangles (or thumb pieces) in the spaces left empty by the intersection of the diagonal lines and the rectangular frame. The text panel is framed by two borders in pink and beige painted with interlacing gold vines and is pasted onto a larger piece of paper decorated with blue flower motifs. The verses read: “(Oh) wine-bringer, because of (my) grief for you, (my) mind and spirit left / Give (me) wine so that (my) pride may disappear. / My patience and ability are spent in this way, / I too would vanish, if only I could.” The poet describes the saqi (wine-bringer) as the object of his “intoxicated” love. His abilities disappear “in this way” (i.e., in loving her), and he wishes that he—much like his abilities conquered by the effects of inebriation—also would fade away. The text is signed by the “poor” (al-faqir) Mir ʻAli, much as it is in a similar fragment in the Sackler Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Mir ʻAli Heravi (died 1543) was a calligrapher in nastaʻliq script active in the city of Herat (present-day Afghanistan) during the 16th century until he was taken to Bukhara (present-day Uzbekistan) in 1528−29 by the Shaybanid ruler ʻUbaydallah Khan Uzbek. Other calligraphic fragments written by, or attributed to, Mir ʻAli also are held in the collections of the Library of Congress.

Last updated: September 30, 2016