"Hikayat" (Moral Story) on Friendship from Saʻdi's "Gulistan"


This calligraphic fragment appears to comprise an excerpt from the Gulistan (The rose garden) by Shaykh Saʻdi Shirazi (circa 1213–92), in which he provides readers with a variety of hikayat (anecdotes or stories with moral lessons). This text describes the anger of a king toward his servant and his desire to punish him, whereupon the servant writes a letter to stress his faithfulness and to seek forgiveness. This particular story stresses the virtue of royal clemency. The text is executed in black shikastah-nastaʻliq on a cream-colored paper. The lines of text, which alternate diagonally, are framed by cloud bands on a gold background. The text panel is framed with red, pink, and green borders and is pasted to a larger sheet of paper backed by cardboard. In the lower-right corner of the frames appears a minute scribble, which may be the calligrapher’s signature. Unfortunately, it is now illegible. Calligraphic sheets written in shikastah-nastaʻliq script similar to this fragment were produced in Iran during the 17th and 18th centuries. Another calligraphic fragment from Gulistan, similar to this one, is in the collections of the Library of Congress and is also presented in World Digital Library.

Last updated: September 30, 2016