Love’s Snare


This calligraphic fragment includes a number of poetical verses written diagonally, horizontally, and vertically in separate panels of beige and gold paper. Two gold horizontal panels at the top and bottom include the following bayts (verses): “Your body that is under (your) shirt, / ‘It is alone, it has no equal,’ what a body it is!” Drawing on the symbolic potential of the Arabic expression for proclaiming the unity of God, “He is alone and has no partner,” the poem describes the divine beauty of the beloved. In the main text panel, a rubaʻi (quatrain) written diagonally in large black nastaʻliq script describes the humiliation of love's untamed passion: “You came riding and you hunted my heart and body for yourself / You cut the rope of reason and leashed in the horse’s passion / I was hiding my crying in my robe, (and) suddenly you passed by intoxicated (with love) / I became disgraced, I with a wet robe and one hundred others with clean robe(s).” In the lower-left gold thumb piece of the main text panel appears the signature of a certain Muhyi, who states that he wrote the text and asks forgiveness for his sins. Muhyi may be identified either as Muhyi al-Din al-Khurasani or Mawlana Muhyi, active circa 1550−1600. This fragment, therefore, probably belonged to a muraqqaʻ (album) of calligraphies produced during the Safavid period in Iran.

Last updated: September 30, 2016