Moral Lessons Through Bird Stories


This calligraphic fragment includes verses providing two separate stories, in which the protagonists are birds. The first narrative describes two falcons in the desert talking about whether to join the king. The smart one refuses because he notes that freedom is better than service, even to a royal patron. The second story describes a hunter about to shoot a small bird. The latter prays to God to save it, at which time the hunter begins to tremble and his arrow misses the bird. Through God’s intercession, the prey is saved from an untimely death. These moralizing verses are written both vertically and horizontally in black shikastah-nastaʻliq script on a white piece of paper. The verses are divided by red lines. The text panel is pasted to a green piece of paper backed by cardboard and framed by a border heavily damaged by worm holes. In the lower-right corner of the text panel, the calligrapher Muhammad Valikhan Khattat, known as Chalaq (the Speedy One), has signed his work. He also notes that it was completed in 1260 AH (1844). From this information, one may hypothesize that this Muhammad Valikhan Khattat was a swift writer active in Iran during the mid-19th century.

Last updated: November 1, 2017