Eulogy to a Ruler


This calligraphic fragment includes a Persian naʼt (eulogy) to a king, describing him as the sayah (shadow) of God on earth. The verses read: “Oh God, You have looked (down) with mercy / Because You extended this shadow to the people / Like a slave, I seek your goodness / Oh God, You Everlasting Shadow.” The verses are written in black nastaʻliq script framed by cloud bands on a beige sheet of paper with a background painted in gold. In the upper-right corner appears an invocation to huwa al-hadi (God as the guide) written in a script known as khatt al-taj (literally, crown writing), in which letters interlace to form decorative coronets. Khatt al-taj is a rather late calligraphic invention, generally appearing in specimens produced during the 19th and 20th centuries. In the lower-left corner of the text panel, the calligrapher has signed his work with the inscription: fidavi dargah Muhammad Husayn tab' namud (the devoted slave at [your] presence [or court], Muhammad Husayn marked [made] it). Although otherwise unrecorded, Muhammad Husayn may have been a calligrapher active in Iran or India at the turn of the 20th century.

Last updated: September 30, 2016