Sample Calligraphies


This panel's main inscription is contained in an elongated oval and reads: Khan Bahadur Sayyid 'Ayn al-Din Sahib Madar al-Mahamm Riyasat Ditya Dama Iqbaluhu. The ruler's name, probably Ditya, and his many titles including madar al-mahamm (center of important affairs) establish his high rank. The term bahadur in particular points to a Mughal Indian provenance, as this honorific designation was the sixth-highest title conferred on Mughal officers and, later, also given to the second class of the Order of British India. The inscription is executed in a number of different scripts, which are labeled by small notes in black ink immediately above or below the word to which they correspond. The titles Khan Bahadur are written in rayhani script, 'Ayn al-Din in ghubar (dust) script, Sahib in afshan (gold sprinkling) script, Madar al-Mahamm in gulzar (flower garden) script, and Riyasat Ditya Dama Iqbaluhu in mahi (fish) script. The sheer variety of scripts, some of which include flower and fish motifs, reveals the calligrapher's mastery of the art. The calligrapher, Hakim Sayyid Hamid 'Abbas al-Taqawi al-Bukhari, has included his name in the center of the bottom margin, where he states that he has written the work. Although he is unknown, his name suggests that he was originally from the city of Bukhara, in present-day Uzbekistan. He probably migrated to India seeking patronage from a Mughal patron such as Ditya, for whom he executed this panel of his honorifics. Panels executed in a variety of scripts, especially those using the flower and fish scripts, seem to date from the 18th and 19th centuries and were made in Iran and India. For example, a calligraphic panel executed by Persian calligrapher Husayn Zarrin Qalam in 1212 AH (1797−98) held in the collections of the Library of Congress also includes a number of whimsical scripts and motifs. Panels such as these appear to have been used as wall hangings, as indicated here by the attached string remaining at the top of this panel. Perhaps also intended for their protective powers, they could include specific Qurʼanic verses such as ayat al-kursi (The throne verse, 2:255), part of which appears in the center of the fragment's top horizontal margin.

Last updated: April 27, 2015