Quatrain Praising Vision


This calligraphic fragment includes a ruba'i (iambic pentameter quatrain), praising vision as the most keen of the human senses. The text is written in black Nasta'liq script on a beige paper decorated with gold paint. The text panel is framed by two borders in beige and gold and pasted to a blue paper decorated with gold flower and vine motifs. Beginning with an invocation to huwa al-mu'izz (God as the Glorified), the verses read: “The heart is a place of sadness and the eye is the site of essence/That means the essence of your arrival is in the wet eye/In the heart (is) sadness and in the eye is the imagining of you/Because my eye is more refined than my heart.” The poet describes his crying ("wet eye") upon seeing his beloved, attempting to show that visual imagination is more sensible and responsive than the heart. In the lower left corner, al-katib (the writer) Mas'ud al-Tabib has signed his name, along with his diminutive epithets al-da'if aqall al-'ibad ("the weak, the smallest of servants"). The calligrapher's full name was Rukn al-Din Mas'ud al-Tabib, and he was known as a master of the Nasta'liq style. Rukn al-Din was nicknamed al-Tabib ("the doctor"), as he came from a long line of royal physicians and he himself held high position at the court, or divan, of Shah 'Abbas I (reigned 1587–1629) in Isfahan. However, when the ruler did not get well after an illness, he requested that Rukn al-Din pay back his salary and forced him to leave the city. Rukn al-Din made his way to Mashhad (northeastern Iran) and from there journeyed to Balkh (present-day Afghanistan) and eventually to India.

Last updated: September 30, 2016