Quatrain Eulogizing a King


This calligraphic fragment includes a ruba'i (iambic pentameter quatrain), in honor of a king. Written diagonally in black Nasta'liq script and framed by cloud bands on a rather crudely painted purple background, the verses read: “Oh King, may the mornings of your fortune / Last until the morning of [the Day of] Gathering / May good luck take you to the utmost limit of hope / And may the evil eye not reach you.” With these words, the poet wishes the king good fortune until the end of time, literally until mahshar (the Day of Gathering at the Last Judgment) and eternal protection against envy or chasm-i bad (the evil eye). In the lower left corner, the calligrapher Rukn al-Din Mas'ud al-Tabib states that he has copied the namaqahu (text) and asks God to forgive his shortcomings. Rukn al-Din was nicknamed al-Tabib (the doctor), as he came from a long line of royal physicians and he himself held high position at the divan, or court, of Shah 'Abbās I (reigned 1587–1629) in Isfahan. However, when the Persian ruler did not get well after an illness, he requested that Rukn al-Din pay back his salary and forced him to leave the city. Rukn al-Din made his way to Mashhad (northeastern Iran) and from there journeyed to Balkh (present-day Afghanistan) and eventually to India. He is known as a master of the Nasta'liq style, and he may have executed this eulogistic quatrain for Shah 'Abbās I prior to his banishment.

Last updated: September 30, 2016