Inshaʼ

Description

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 includes a now-damaged attribution note at the top, stating that the calligraphy was executed by a “son of Mir Afkan Khan.” Immediately below the attribution note appears a cut-out illegible seal impression. The main text, written in an Indian nastaʻliq tending towards shikastah, begins with an invocation to God, or Huwa al-ʻaziz (He is the Glorified). The writer then begins his letter to his brother or friend, stating that he was happy to receive his wonderful letter. He hopes to see his friend or brother soon and asks him to send him news as soon as possible. The verso of this particular fragment includes a now-damaged attribution note at the top, stating that the calligraphy was executed by a son of Mir Afkan Khan. Immediately below the attribution note appears a cut-out seal impression with the name “al-Dawlah Bahadur” still legible. In the lower-left corner appears a squiggle design. The main text executed on the white paper is addressed to the writer’s dear friend or brother, in which he states that he received the latter’s letter. He hopes to see him and his friends on Yakshambah (Sunday).

Last updated: September 30, 2016