This calligraphic fragment belongs to a series of 22 inshaʼ (literary compositions or letters) written by calligraphers named Mir Kalan, Khan Zaman (son of Khan Khanan), Qaʼim Khan, Lutfallah Khan, and Mahabat Khan. Judging from the script (Indian nastaʻliq), a seal impression bearing the date 1113 AH (1701−2), and a letter mentioning the city of Janpur in India, it appears that these writings were executed in India during the 18th century. Furthermore, if one were to identify the calligrapher Mir Kalan as the renowned painter active during the mid-18th century in Lucknow, then this identification would add further support to identifying this calligraphic series in the Library of Congress’ collection as a corpus of materials produced by several writers active in 18th-century India. The calligraphies are typically written in a hasty nastaʻliq on white paper, framed in blue, and pasted to a pink or salmon cardboard. They stand out for being in rather poor condition, in many cases badly damaged by worm holes and/or water stains. Some bear squiggle-like marks in the margins, while others include seal impressions that were cut out and pasted onto the cardboards. In most cases, an attribution to a calligrapher is written at the top, preceded by the expression raqamahu (written by) or khatt-i (the handwriting of). The recto of this particular composition is attributed to Qaʼim Khan, as noted by the inscription on the top "fa'la Qaʼim Khan pa[sar]..." (made by Qaʼim Khan, son of...). A small squiggle design appears in the lower-left corner. The composition itself appears on a white-and-blue marble paper decorated with salmon flowers. It begins with praise of God, huwa al-ʻaziz (He is the Glorified), followed by two bayts (verses) of poetry on firaq (the pain of separation) composed by the great Persian poet Hafiz (died circa 1390). The writer then states that he received his friend’s letter, which was like a flower for him. Although this inshaʼ (letter) is filled with ornate and elaborate expressions, the writer admits at the end that it was “hararahu bi al-ʻajalah” (written in haste). The verso, like this fragment’s recto, is attributed to Qaʼim Khan, and has the same inscription on the top. The composition itself appears on a white paper decorated with blue sprinkles, and consists of an inshaʼ addressed to a certain Navab Sahib (a title further supporting the Indian origin of these letters). The writer states that he is pleased to have received Navab Sahib’s letter, which was like a gul-i khush bu (sweet-smelling flower), and is eager to see him. He thanks Navab Sahib for having done very thoughtful things for him and ends his letter by promising that he will not forget his kindness.

Last updated: September 30, 2016