Jami's "Nafahat al-Uns"


This calligraphic fragment includes a section from a hagiographical work by Jami (died 1492) entitled Nafahat al-Uns (Lives of the saints), in which the lives of a number of Sufi saints are described. In this particular folio and its verso, Jami describes an event in the life of the Sufi shaykh Sirri ibn al-Maghlas al-Saqati (died 867). He was the teacher and maternal uncle of the famous mystic Junayd of Baghdad (Abu al-Qasim Junayd ibn Muhammad, died circa 910) and composed many sayings on tawhid (mystical unity), love of God, and other spiritual matters. The biography is continued on the verso of this folio. The Persian verses are written in black nastaʻliq script in two columns on a beige paper. Verses are divided by a plain central gutter marked off by two gold vertical lines. An illuminated chapter heading towards the bottom of the text panel includes the section title about al-Saqati written in white ink on a gold background. The text panel is framed and pasted onto a larger sheet of paper decorated with flower-and-leaf motifs on a blue ground achieved through the use of a pounce. This kind of marginal decoration is found in a number of 16th-century manuscripts produced under Shaybanid patronage in Bukhara (present-day Uzbekistan) from about 1500‒1550. Other manuscripts, such as a 1568 copy of Athar-i Muzaffar (A history of the Prophet) in the Topkapi Palace Library, also make use of pounced motifs as marginal decoration. For these reasons, it is possible to suggest that this manuscript was produced in Central Asia during the 16th century.

Last updated: September 30, 2016