Decorative Borders


The recto of this calligraphic fragment includes verses composed by the famous Persian poet Ḥāfiẓ (died 1388−89, AH 791), as well as a number of other verses framed in rectangular bands along the inner border of the central panel. Every line of calligraphy is cut out and pasted individually onto the fragment's illuminated background. The verses are framed by white and blue borders decorated with gold flower-and-leaf motifs, and pasted onto an orange paper painted in gold and provided with ornamental medallions containing pink and white flowers. This fragment's decoration, much like the pattern on the fragment's verso, is typical of Mughal book arts of the 17th century. The five verses written horizontally on the illuminated panel read: “I give you advice: learn it and do it / Because I remember that this (advice) came from the leader of my spiritual order. / Don't expect this unsteady world to be faithful / Because this old hag was a bride to a thousand husbands. / Go, devout one, and do not reprimand the drinkers.” Ḥāfiẓ warns of the transience and fickleness of this world (literally, an 'ajuza or old hag), and argues that those who imbibe the durd (last dregs or essence) of wine have the spiritual understanding of what is true and permanent. The verso of this fragment has a decorative border similar to the recto; however, the verso is devoid of text. The illuminated frame is pasted to a paper decorated with yellow flowers perhaps intended to represent blooming saffron flowers (although the petals of saffron flowers tend to be a light purple color). This pattern of yellow-orange flowers appears on an otherwise-unrelated calligraphic fragment in the Library of Congress, suggesting that both works may have originated from the same atelier. The latter work, the first pages of a copy of Sa'di's Bustan, is believed to have been made in India during the 17th century.

Last updated: July 31, 2014