Shiʻi Invocation to a Ruler


This calligraphic fragment contains a Shiʻi praise to a ruler by comparing him to the figure of ʻAli, son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, and his famous double-edged sword, Dhu al-Fiqar (“Cleaver of the Spine”): “Oh Dignity of Haydar, it shows on your forehead, / Your name is like Dhu al-Fiqar in battle.” The two verses thus compare the ruler to ʻAli, the Haydar Allah (Lion of God), and liken his name to ʻAli’s victorious sword. The text is written in black nastaʻliq on a beige paper framed by a light-brown border cut out and pasted to a larger sheet of paper backed by cardboard. In the outside margin, the calligrapher’s name, Hafiz Nur Allah, seems to have been added at a later date. Nothing is known about this calligrapher, although the style and content of the fragment suggests that it was executed in a Shiʻi milieu in India during the 18th century.

Last updated: September 30, 2016