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). A small note at the top of this fragment’s recto states that the work was executed “khatt-i . . . Mir Kalan.” In the lower-left corner appears a squiggle motif. The main text, written in black ink on a white piece of paper, consists of a letter. It is initiated by a bayt (verse) of poetry on love and separation, and continues with the writer expressing his wish to see his addressee again. He describes his friend/brother as a son and as the source of all generosity (of which he hopes to receive some of the benefit). This particular fragment’s verso bears a note attributing the text to a particular calligrapher, although the note is now damaged. If it were by the same writer as the text on the fragment’s recto, then one might assume that it was executed by Mir Kalan. The text itself, executed in black ink on a white piece of paper, begins with two bayts of poetry about joy and the need to see one's friends. Then the writer concludes with his own letter, stating that he is in good health and hopes to be of use (literally, become a bandagar, or servant) to the addressee.

Last updated: September 30, 2016