The Sound of Insanity


This calligraphic fragment includes four verses of poetry in Persian describing the simple mark and sound of insanity (i.e., the chain). The verses read: “I and the chain that / Were walking and lamenting together / (that is what) causes the separation between craziness / and enjoyment and wisdom.” The text is written in nasta'liq script in white ink on a red ground. The lines of text are separated by green or blue bands decorated with flower-and-vine motifs painted in gold. In the lower-right corner appears the calligrapher's signature: katabahu al-'abd ahqar al-anam (written by the servant, the most humble of mortals), Munshi Ram. This calligrapher may be identified as Munshi Ram (1737−90), a writer specializing in Arabic and Persian, who was active in Rādhānagar, West Bengal, India. Another specimen signed by Munshi Ram is held in the collections of the Library of Congress. Judging from both examples, he seems to have been a calligrapher who preferred writing verses in nasta'liq script using white ink on red backgrounds.

Last updated: May 11, 2015