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). An attribution note at the top of the recto of this fragment states that this calligraphic fragment was raqamahu (written by) Qaʻim Khan. The main text, written in black ink, appears on both a white paper speckled in blue and a marble paper decorated with orange flowers and green leaves. In the center of the lower horizontal margin appears a seal impression bearing the date 1116 AH (1704‒5). At the beginning of the composition appears the phrase in praise of God Huwa al-qadir (God, the All-Powerful), followed by the writer’s letter. Here, he states that he received his friend’s letter and has wanted to write back. He is distressed that he has not heard from his friend. To make his message clear, the writer includes a bayt (verse) by Hafiz (died 1388−89, 791 AH) on separation and pain, as well as a Qurʼanic ayah (verse) stating that if someone helps others, God will help him in return. An attribution note at the top of the verso of this fragment states that this calligraphy also was written by (raqamahu) by Qaʻim Khan. The main text, written in black ink, appears on both a white paper speckled in blue and a marble paper decorated with orange flowers and green leaves. At the beginning of the composition appears the word huwa (literally, “He,” functioning as the laudatory incipit “In the Name of God”), followed by the writer’s letter to a certain Navab Sahib, stating that he is very thankful to the latter for his help, and that he is his servant and wishes to be at his side again.

Last updated: September 30, 2016