A Praise of Calligraphy


This calligraphic fragment includes several verses praising the practice of calligraphy. Beginning with an invocation of Allahu Akbar (God, the Great), the verses then read: “I have brought a small vow for you to be powerful like Asaf and Jam / I have used garnet, ruby, and emerald / They have said that beautiful handwriting is better than garnet and gems / I have brought (you) a house-full of gems as an offering.” The poet describes a fragment of a vow to be similar to a qit'a (fragment) of khatt-i khush (calligraphy), and as a result this panel functions as a nisar (offering) as precious as all the gems in the world. The blue border decorated with flecks of gold serves as a visual echo to the poem's contents. Around the border of the text panel, the calligrapher Muhammad Riza al-Din specifies that he katabahu (wrote) the verses in AH 1243 (1828−29). He also states that the piece is written for his 'izz and sharaf (glory and dignity), if it is gar qabul aftad (accepted). Although Muhammad Riza al-Din is not known, he appears to have been a calligrapher in the nasta'liq style active in 19th-century Iran.

Last updated: July 31, 2014