Quatrain on Freedom


This calligraphic fragment includes a ruba'i (iambic pentameter quatrain) promoting personal independence and khatir (the renunciation of attachment to people and places). Beginning with an invocation to huwa al-mu'izz (God as the Glorified), the verses read: “Do not get tied to any person or to any place / Because the land and sea are vast and people are many / If a thousand beautiful ones come towards you / Look, move on, and do not get attached to anybody.” Executed in black nasta'liq script on a beige paper, the verses are highlighted from the cloud motifs formed by the gold-painted background. The text panel is decorated by salmon and blue borders with gold motifs and pasted to a larger sheet of brown paper backed by cardboard. In the lower-left corner, the calligraphic specimen has been signed by a certain Muhammad Riza "Kitabdar" (the librarian). On the verso of this fragment, a later note attributes the work to a certain "Muhammad Riza Lahuri" as well. Judging from these two notes, it appears that Muhammad Riza was a librarian-calligrapher in Lahore. He may have formed part a group of calligraphers active in Lahore during the 18th century, which included 'Abdallah Lahuri, Muhammad Zahir Lahuri, and Muhammad Muhsin Lahuri.

Last updated: May 3, 2016