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 calligraphic fragment includes a note at the top horizontal stating that the text is by Khan Zaman, the walad (son) of Khan Khanan. In the lower horizontal margin are a squiggle design and a cut-out seal impression pasted onto the salmon paper. The seal impression also bears the name of Khan Zaman. The main text is executed in black ink on white paper decorated with blue sprinkles. The author writes to his baradar-i mahraban-i man (dear friend or brother) to tell him how much he misses him and that he is in his duʻaʼ (prayers). Interestingly, the fragment’s verso provides an exact duplicate copy of this text, suggesting that the original was executed as a stencil and used as an exemplum of how to write inshaʼ (compositions) to one’s friend or brother during times of separation.

Last updated: September 30, 2016