Divan of Sultan Husayn Mirza


This folio includes ten lines of poetry from a divan (compendium of poems) written in Chagatay Turkish by the last Timurid ruler, Sultan Husayn Mirza (1438–1506). Executed in nasta'liq script through a process of découpage, the fragment belongs to a now dispersed manuscript possibly calligraphed by Sultan 'Ali al-Mashhadi around 1490. Sultan Husayn Mirza b. Mansur b. Bayqara was ruler of Khurasan, based in its capital city of Herat (present-day Afghanistan), from 1469 to his death in 1506. The city was an important cultural center, attracting both Turkish and Persian poets as well as historians, artists, and calligraphers. The ruler himself composed poetry using the pen name Husayni, and his Chagatay Turkish poems (ghazals in ramal meter) were compiled in a collection called the Divan-i Husayni. This folio’s letters are not written in ink, but have been cut out very skillfully from a blue paper pasted onto a cream-colored background provided with a marginal frame decorated with gold sprinkles on a blue ground. This découpage technique is known as qit'a, or literally a cutting out, and artists specializing in this technique were called qati'an (cutters). Découpage calligraphy became popular around the last quarter of the 15th century, as Qadi Ahmad’s treatise of A.H. 1015 (A.D. 1606) on the subject makes clear.

Last updated: September 30, 2016