ʻId (Feast Day) Prayer for Good Fortune


This calligraphic fragment includes two bayts (verses) wishing its owner prosperity and happiness on the occasion of an ʻid. “It is ʻid, congratulations on the new celebration / May the crown of fortune be your summit / May the Chapters of Victory and Blessing / Be your protectors and supporters in both worlds.” In this prayer, which probably was written for the celebration of the ʻId-i Nawruz (New Year), a patron is wished protection through two Qurʼanic chapters, namely Surat al-Fath (Victory, Qurʼan 48) and Surat Tabarak (Blessing), otherwise known as Surat al-Mulk (The kingdom, Qurʼan 67). These two verses are known for their apotropaic and protective powers, and thus are appropriate in a prayer wishing success and well-being. The verses are executed in Indian naskh script in dark-brown ink and are framed by cloud bands on a background painted with a light-brown wash. Each bayt is executed in diagonal and contained in a separate rectangular frame. The whole of the text frame has been pasted to a larger sheet of beige paper backed by cardboard. In the lower-left corner appears the calligrapher’s signature, which reads: “mashaqahu al-faqir (written by the poor) Agha Muhammad ʻAli (or Muhammad ʻAli Agha).” Part of the signature—along with the last word (bad) of the poem’s final verse—has been filled in later, since a part of the original calligraphy was lost or damaged. Muhammad ʻAli is otherwise unrecorded. However, judging from the fragment’s script and theme, it can be surmised that this piece was executed in India sometime during the 18th or 19th century as a New Year’s gift to an eminent patron.

Last updated: September 30, 2016