Sample of a Hopeful Letter


This calligraphic fragment is intended as an example of how a letter to a friend is to be written. The text, written in a fluid shikastah- nastaʻliq in black ink, is outlined in cloud bands and placed on a background painted in gold. Several borders in orange, blue, and gold frame the text panel, which is pasted to a larger sheet of pink paper backed with cardboard for support. The letter begins with two verses of poetry about hope after disappointment. They read: “Look at the bird of the heart, his wing and feathers burned / He has the hope (to return to) the nest, still still still . . .” The sample letter then proceeds with expressions that the writer must use when missing a friend and wishing to see him again. The calligrapher’s signature appears vertically at the top of the text panel and reads: "mashaqahu al-ʻabd al-aqall . . . ‘Abdallah al-musammah bi-khatim al-anbiya'" (written by the modest servant ‘Abdallah known as the “Seal of the Prophets”). The calligrapher, whose name is shared with that of the Prophet Muhammad, has added a note indicating that he wrote his composition in the month of Muharram. Although he does not specify the year, the script is typical of 18th-century Persian calligraphic works.

Last updated: September 30, 2016