Three Bayts (Verses) on Worldly Desires


This calligraphic fragment includes three bayts (verses) of poetry in Persian that describe the true meaning of life in verses that read: “In this ancient monastery built in olden days / Strange that man's substance is so neglected / If he were to spend his whole life with riches / He would not know their value until they are lost / In this house of sandalwood and ebony / Sometimes (there is) mourning, at others a wedding.” The poem describes the world as an ancient monastery and a house of sandalwood and ebony. The world is treacherous, as it takes back what it gives, but also consists jointly of joys and sadness. The true value of man's life must be sought elsewhere than in the acquisition of worldly goods. The verses are executed in black Nasta'liq script on beige paper and are outlined in cloud bands on a background painted in gold. The text panel is framed by blue- and cream-colored borders decorated with gold flecks, and somewhat sloppily pasted to a larger sheet of brown paper backed by cardboard. This calligraphic fragment is neither signed nor dated. However, it may have been executed in Iran or India in the 18th–19th centuries.

Last updated: April 27, 2016