Spousal Advice


This calligraphic fragment includes six lines of script written right-side-up and up-side-down in Thuluth script in black ink on a beige sheet of folio pasted to an orange sheet backed by cardboard. Together, the six continuous lines of text in Arabic read: “A father speaks to a mother [and says] this is what is joyful to a tender and loving father and one who knows that this behavior is desirable. You, as their mother, must be a sound, healthy, and pure soul; you should implement these [manners] as my will in God's following; you should spend within what God limits in your life; and you should accept what is given, what is permitted and forbidden, and you must not disobey this.” These husbandly recommendations seek to promote goodness and piety in a woman who is also a mother. The saying belongs to the broader category of nasihat (advice) in Arabic moral literature. The signature on the fragment is up-side-down between the last two lines of text. The calligrapher 'Abdallah states that he has written the piece, but he does not provide a date. The calligrapher may be identified as 'Abdallah Lahuri, who was active in Lahore during the 18th century. Another fragment of his work, executed in Nasta'liq script, is also held in the collections of the Library of Congress. After the death of Aurangzeb (1618–1707), Mughal power was decentralized and royal patronage of calligraphy declined. New styles emerged in cities that included Lucknow, Hyderabad, and Lahore, where calligraphers such as 'Abdallah sought out patronage from local rulers and seem to have had the freedom to experiment with a number of different calligraphic scripts.

Last updated: April 27, 2016