Prayers for Nawruz (New Year)


This calligraphic panel is executed in black (Indian) naskh on a pink paper decorated with gold cloud motifs and pasted to a light-blue backing. It is signed by Muhammad Bakhsh and dated 1211 AH (1796−97) in the lower-left corner. In the upper-right corner, an invocation to ʻAli, Ya ʻAli al-aʻala (Oh ʻAli, the Greatest), shows that the work emerged from a Shiʻi milieu. The rubaʻi (iambic pentameter quatrain) that follows reads: “Oh Star of the Constellation of Destiny (endowed) with good luck / Rise up and be merry because the New Year has arrived. / Every promise that Fortune has made to you / Is now close, if it (ever) had been far.” This poem wishes a ruler (nicknamed the “Star of the Constellation of Destiny”) everlasting good fortune and the fulfillment of promises on the occasion of Nawruz (New Year). This Nawruz is most likely the spring equinox (March 21), marking the beginning of the solar calendar as celebrated in Iran and parts of India. It appears that this calligraphic panel was executed on such an occasion to celebrate the New Year and to wish a patron prosperity for the year to come.

Last updated: September 30, 2016