Verses on the Beloved


This calligraphic fragment includes four lines of Persian poetry describing the heavenly scent and life-endowing capabilities of the beloved: “Although musk smells fragrant / It does not breathe life like your scent / Paradise is a good and beloved place / But it is not as splendid as your abode.” The text is executed in nasta'liq script in white ink on a red background. Blue panels decorated with gold flower-and-leaf motifs separate and frame the lines of text. Other monochromatic frames also appear on the larger sheet of beige paper backed by cardboard, onto which the text panel has been pasted. Although the calligraphic specimen is neither signed nor dated, a later note on the fragment's verso attributes the piece to a certain 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 an Indian calligrapher who preferred writing verses in nasta'liq script using white ink on red backgrounds.

Last updated: May 3, 2016