Petition for Funds and Inshaʼ


This calligraphic fragment belongs to a series of 22 inshaʼ (literary compositions or letters) written by calligraphers named Mir Kalan, Khan Zaman (son of Khan Khanan), Qaʼim Khan, Lutfallah Khan, and Mahabat Khan. Judging from the script (Indian nastaʻliq), a seal impression bearing the date 1113 AH (1701−2), and a letter mentioning the city of Janpur in India, it appears that these writings were executed in India during the 18th century. Furthermore, if one were to identify the calligrapher Mir Kalan as the renowned painter active during the mid-18th century in Lucknow, then this identification would add further support to identifying this calligraphic series in the Library of Congress’ collection as a corpus of materials produced by several writers active in 18th-century India. The calligraphies are typically written in a hasty nastaʻliq on white paper, framed in blue, and pasted to a pink or salmon cardboard. They stand out for being in rather poor condition, in many cases badly damaged by worm holes and/or water stains. Some bear squiggle-like marks in the margins, while others include seal impressions that were cut out and pasted onto the cardboards. In most cases, an attribution to a calligrapher is written at the top, preceded by the expression raqamahu (written by) or khatt-i (the handwriting of). This particular fragment is attributed to Lutfallah Khan, as noted by the expression “khatt-i Lutfallah Khan” written above the blue frame and below a cut-out seal impression pasted in the upper horizontal margin. The seal impression includes the year 1113 AH (1701−2) and the name Bahadur Shams al-Dawlah Khan. The text itself is a petition addressed to a certain Navab Sahib, asking him to endow a piece of land and provide funds for the employees working at the khanagah (monastery) of the deceased dervish Hajji Muhammad in Janpur. Bahadur Shams al-Dawlah Khan also asks for further supplies (i.e., food and clothing) for the fuqaraʼ (poor) who frequent this holy place of worship. He ends his letter by stating that he and the dervishes are busy praying for him and his welfare. At the top of the verso of the fragment appears a now illegible attribution note stating that the text was khatt-i . . . . The calligrapher may well be Lutfallah Khan, who also executed the text on the fragment’s recto. The text itself, written in a crisp nastaʻliq, is highly florid. It begins with a poetical excerpt dedicated to the addressee, calling him the “flower of the garden and the towers of Fortune.” The writer states that he was very happy to see him, that he was satisfied, and that he treasures their friendship.

Last updated: September 30, 2016