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 gold flowers. The verses read: "Why set out to the Ka'ba when the Ka'ba is your home? / The Sacred Enclosure of my Ka'ba is the threshold to your soil. / The bewitchment of your eye captures the territory of hearts, / Now all the people of the world tell your story. / How can I bring out from (my) heart the imagination of your garnet (lips)? / Because in the treasury of the heart there are many marks of you." By drawing on the imagery of Mecca, the Ka'ba, and its Sacred Enclosure (harim), the poet describes his affection for his beloved's eyes and lips in terms of a pilgrimage into his heart. The verses are signed by the writer (al-katib) Mir 'Ali (died 1543 [951 AH]), a master calligrapher who was active in Herat (Afghanistan) and Bukhara (Uzbekistan) during the 16th century.

Last updated: September 30, 2016