Levha, or Calligraphic Panel


This calligraphic sheet states that "whoever writes the bismillah ("in the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful") in a beautiful writing enters Paradise without judgment." This saying is quite popular in Ottoman qit'a (calligraphic panels), as husn-i khatt (good handwriting) was considered an outward manifestation of the religious and moral values cultivated by calligraphers. This panel includes a minute signature at the bottom center of the lowermost register. Although almost illegible today, the signature indicates that the work was executed by a certain Mawlana Hasan (or Hamid) Hilli. To the left of the erased signature appears the name of Muzaffar 'Ali, who probably was responsible for claiming the piece as his own. This particular Muzaffar 'Ali remains unidentified, although he does share the same name as the famous painter-calligrapher who flourished during the reign of the Safavid Persian ruler Shah Tahmasp (died 1576). The text is executed in a large and beautiful Nasta'liq script on a beige sheet of paper. The letters are surrounded by very light traces of cloud bands. The two lines of calligraphy are framed into two separate panels, provided with gold and colored frames, and pasted onto a pink cardboard for strengthening. This kind of framed calligraphic inscription pasted onto a pasteboard is called a lawha (Arabic) or levha (Turkish), which means literally "tablet." These kinds of compositions pasted onto cardboard are typical of Ottoman calligraphic practice during the 18th–19th centuries.

Last updated: April 27, 2016