Two Verses of Poetry


This calligraphic fragment includes a small rectangular panel of text pasted onto a much larger page decorated with a blue paper and painted with gold flower motifs. This fragment resembles a number of pages used to mount calligraphies and paintings in Mughal Indian albums, such as the famous Saint Petersburg Muraqqaʻ. The text panel includes eight verses inscribed in rectangular frames and decorated in gold cloud bands, constituting a “text” border for the central panel. At the top and bottom of the main panel appear cut out pieces of ebru or abri (marble paper) and illuminated finials typically reserved for the top of a sarloh (text page). The two lines of poetry in the central panel, written in black nastaʻliq, framed by cloud bands outlined in blue ink, and placed on a beige background decorated with painted gold flowers, read: “When the spirit of the world came out of the garden with a floating skirt / The birds of the garden’s spirit flew up, you say, like out of a body.” The poet describes the arrival of his loved one, nicknamed the Jan-i jahan (Spirit of the world), and the euphoria he feels upon seeing her. As birds fly up, his spirit rises so high as if to pierce through his bodily cage. The calligrapher has followed to the letter the maxim, “form fits function.” Taking his clue from the repeated n sound in the Persian poem, he has emphasized the circular interlacing shape of the nun (n) letters on the sheet of paper. Like lacework, the calligraphy is “stitched” together by the artistic layout of the recurring rounded nuns.

Last updated: September 30, 2016