Three Bayts (Verses) to a Loved One

This calligraphic fragment includes three bayts (verses) of poetry in the main text panel and ten verses around this panel, creating a textual frame decorated with gold vine and leaf motifs. The entire calligraphic piece is pasted to a paper decorated with blue geometric and vegetal motifs highlighted in gold. The central text panel is topped by an illuminated rectangular panel and includes a decorative triangle in the upper left corner. The verses in the central panel are written in nasta'liq script on a white ground decorated with gold flowers. The verses read: "Why set out to the Ka'ba when the Ka'ba is your home? / The Sacred Enclosure of my Ka'ba is the threshold to your soil. / The bewitchment of your eye captures the territory of hearts, / Now all the people of the world tell your story. / How can I bring out from (my) heart the imagination of your garnet (lips)? / Because in the treasury of the heart there are many marks of you." By drawing on the imagery of Mecca, the Ka'ba, and its Sacred Enclosure (harim), the poet describes his affection for his beloved's eyes and lips in terms of a pilgrimage into his heart. The verses are signed by the writer (al-katib) Mir 'Ali (died 1543 [951 AH]), a master calligrapher who was active in Herat (Afghanistan) and Bukhara (Uzbekistan) during the 16th century.

Prayers for Safety and Success

This calligraphic fragment includes verses in Persian praying for the patron's personal well-being and the prosperity of his kingdom. The verses read: "May the world be (your) fortune and the firmament (your) friend / May the World-Creator (God) protect (you) / May all your works be successful / May God of the World look after you / May your heart and your kingdom be collected and well-frequented / May division stay far away from your realm." The verses are executed in black nasta'liq script on beige paper. They are framed by cloud bands and placed on a gold background decorated with vine motifs and blue flowers. Salmon and blue borders decorated with gold-painted flowers and leaves frame the text panel, which is pasted to a larger blue sheet decorated with gold bouquets. The entire fragment is backed by cardboard for strengthening purposes. The upper right triangle of the text panel includes an ornamental blue finial, the lower left triangular panel the signature of the calligrapher, Mir 'Ali, who designates himself as "the poor" (al-faqir). Mir 'Ali Heravi (died 1543 [951 AH]), a calligrapher in nasta'liq script, was active in the city of Herat (Afghanistan) during the 16th century until he was taken to Bukhara (Uzbekistan) in 1528-9 (935 AH) by the Shaybanid ruler 'Ubaydallah Khan Uzbek.