'Id (Feast Day) Quatrain


This calligraphic fragment shows a ruba'i (iambic pentameter quatrain), written in nasta'liq script by the calligrapher Muhammad Qamar al-Din. He has signed the quatrain in the lower-left corner with the expression "katabahu [written by] Muhammad Qamar al-Din." Nothing is known about this calligrapher, although the steady nasta'liq script suggests that it was executed in Persia (Iran) during the 16th or 17th centuries. The text is framed by cloud bands executed in black ink and highlighted with gold paint, around which a blue frame with interlacing gold vine motifs has been pasted somewhat sloppily. The poem reads: “In as much as 'id is the month of blessings / And makes pilgrims (go) to 'Arafat / Like sacrificial sheep, / May all your enemies be in the ‘Direction of Pilgrims’.” The poem's imagery revolves around the activities linked to the celebrations of 'id al-Qurban (also called 'id al-Adha, the feast of sacrifice), which marks the end of the pilgrimage rites on the tenth day of the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijja. Drawing on the symbolism of qibla (the direction of prayer), the poet describes a ruler as the "Direction of Pilgrims" and wishes him the defeat of his enemies. These lines were probably written on 'id al-Qurban in order to eulogize a patron, as they draw on the metaphorical potential of religious activities taking place at that time. Other poems written for rulers during the celebrations of pilgrimage or to usher in the New Year are held in the collections of the Library of Congress.

Last updated: July 31, 2014