April 29, 2016

Zhvandūn, Volume 31, Number 48, Saturday, February 16, 1980

Zhvandūn, generally known as “Zhwandun,” was one of the most popular magazines published in Afghanistan in the second half of the 20th century. It began as a progressive magazine published both in Persian and Pushto, beginning in May 1949. The magazine presented articles on Afghan and global history, archaeological discoveries and artifacts, poetry and language, biographies of Afghan and foreign figures, arts and culture, philosophy and religion, and other topics relating to culture and everyday life, including music, dance, plays, health, and households. While Zhvandūn presented articles on literary, historical, educational, and entertainment topics throughout the time it was published, the changing social and political dynamics of Afghanistan influenced the character of the editorial content. In the 1960s, the magazine reflected the royalism of the Kingdom of Afghanistan. In contrast, the leftist regimes of the 1980s promoted revolutionary content, such as discussions of Marxist ideology, anticapitalist chants, and articles on agricultural reforms. While Zhvandūn marketed itself as a magazine for khanawadah (families), its main audience was the post-World War II generation of urban Afghans of various backgrounds: students, academics, writers, poets, researchers, and general readers. Zhvandūn was published every 15 days until 1952, when it became a weekly publication. On May 6, 1954, the management of Zhvandūn was given to the Riyasat-i Mustaqil-i Matbu’at (Autonomous Directorate of Publications). The Vizarat-i Ittilaʻat va Kultur (Ministry of Information and Culture) took over the magazine in 1970, and managed it until 1982, when control was transferred to Itihadyah-yi Navisandagan Jumhur-i Dimukratik-i Afghanistan (Union of the Writers of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan). The renamed Union of Afghan Writers issued separate editions of Zhvandūn (one in Pushto and another in Persian) under the mujahideen government in the 1990s, until the magazine ceased publishing in 1996. 

Zhvandūn, Volume 31, Number 49, Saturday, February 23, 1980

Zhvandūn, generally known as “Zhwandun,” was one of the most popular magazines published in Afghanistan in the second half of the 20th century. It began as a progressive magazine published both in Persian and Pushto, beginning in May 1949. The magazine presented articles on Afghan and global history, archaeological discoveries and artifacts, poetry and language, biographies of Afghan and foreign figures, arts and culture, philosophy and religion, and other topics relating to culture and everyday life, including music, dance, plays, health, and households. While Zhvandūn presented articles on literary, historical, educational, and entertainment topics throughout the time it was published, the changing social and political dynamics of Afghanistan influenced the character of the editorial content. In the 1960s, the magazine reflected the royalism of the Kingdom of Afghanistan. In contrast, the leftist regimes of the 1980s promoted revolutionary content, such as discussions of Marxist ideology, anticapitalist chants, and articles on agricultural reforms. While Zhvandūn marketed itself as a magazine for khanawadah (families), its main audience was the post-World War II generation of urban Afghans of various backgrounds: students, academics, writers, poets, researchers, and general readers. Zhvandūn was published every 15 days until 1952, when it became a weekly publication. On May 6, 1954, the management of Zhvandūn was given to the Riyasat-i Mustaqil-i Matbu’at (Autonomous Directorate of Publications). The Vizarat-i Ittilaʻat va Kultur (Ministry of Information and Culture) took over the magazine in 1970, and managed it until 1982, when control was transferred to Itihadyah-yi Navisandagan Jumhur-i Dimukratik-i Afghanistan (Union of the Writers of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan). The renamed Union of Afghan Writers issued separate editions of Zhvandūn (one in Pushto and another in Persian) under the mujahideen government in the 1990s, until the magazine ceased publishing in 1996. 

Zhvandūn, Volume 31, Number 50, Saturday, March 1, 1980

Zhvandūn, generally known as “Zhwandun,” was one of the most popular magazines published in Afghanistan in the second half of the 20th century. It began as a progressive magazine published both in Persian and Pushto, beginning in May 1949. The magazine presented articles on Afghan and global history, archaeological discoveries and artifacts, poetry and language, biographies of Afghan and foreign figures, arts and culture, philosophy and religion, and other topics relating to culture and everyday life, including music, dance, plays, health, and households. While Zhvandūn presented articles on literary, historical, educational, and entertainment topics throughout the time it was published, the changing social and political dynamics of Afghanistan influenced the character of the editorial content. In the 1960s, the magazine reflected the royalism of the Kingdom of Afghanistan. In contrast, the leftist regimes of the 1980s promoted revolutionary content, such as discussions of Marxist ideology, anticapitalist chants, and articles on agricultural reforms. While Zhvandūn marketed itself as a magazine for khanawadah (families), its main audience was the post-World War II generation of urban Afghans of various backgrounds: students, academics, writers, poets, researchers, and general readers. Zhvandūn was published every 15 days until 1952, when it became a weekly publication. On May 6, 1954, the management of Zhvandūn was given to the Riyasat-i Mustaqil-i Matbu’at (Autonomous Directorate of Publications). The Vizarat-i Ittilaʻat va Kultur (Ministry of Information and Culture) took over the magazine in 1970, and managed it until 1982, when control was transferred to Itihadyah-yi Navisandagan Jumhur-i Dimukratik-i Afghanistan (Union of the Writers of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan). The renamed Union of Afghan Writers issued separate editions of Zhvandūn (one in Pushto and another in Persian) under the mujahideen government in the 1990s, until the magazine ceased publishing in 1996. 

Zhvandūn, Volume 31, Number 51, Saturday, March 8, 1980

Zhvandūn, generally known as “Zhwandun,” was one of the most popular magazines published in Afghanistan in the second half of the 20th century. It began as a progressive magazine published both in Persian and Pushto, beginning in May 1949. The magazine presented articles on Afghan and global history, archaeological discoveries and artifacts, poetry and language, biographies of Afghan and foreign figures, arts and culture, philosophy and religion, and other topics relating to culture and everyday life, including music, dance, plays, health, and households. While Zhvandūn presented articles on literary, historical, educational, and entertainment topics throughout the time it was published, the changing social and political dynamics of Afghanistan influenced the character of the editorial content. In the 1960s, the magazine reflected the royalism of the Kingdom of Afghanistan. In contrast, the leftist regimes of the 1980s promoted revolutionary content, such as discussions of Marxist ideology, anticapitalist chants, and articles on agricultural reforms. While Zhvandūn marketed itself as a magazine for khanawadah (families), its main audience was the post-World War II generation of urban Afghans of various backgrounds: students, academics, writers, poets, researchers, and general readers. Zhvandūn was published every 15 days until 1952, when it became a weekly publication. On May 6, 1954, the management of Zhvandūn was given to the Riyasat-i Mustaqil-i Matbu’at (Autonomous Directorate of Publications). The Vizarat-i Ittilaʻat va Kultur (Ministry of Information and Culture) took over the magazine in 1970, and managed it until 1982, when control was transferred to Itihadyah-yi Navisandagan Jumhur-i Dimukratik-i Afghanistan (Union of the Writers of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan). The renamed Union of Afghan Writers issued separate editions of Zhvandūn (one in Pushto and another in Persian) under the mujahideen government in the 1990s, until the magazine ceased publishing in 1996. 

Two Verses on Lovesickness

This calligraphic fragment includes two bayts (verses) on the woes of lovesickness. Initiated by praise to God, “al-ʻaziz” (the Glorified) and “al-rashid” (the Rightly Guided), the verses continue: “In that high place where the inhabitants of the skies / Wish to be the doorkeepers of your abode / What purpose to speak to you about my state / Since you yourself know the state of (my) heartsickness.” Around the verses of poetry, a calligrapher has added a dedicatory inscription. He states that khatt (calligraphy) is bi nadir (incomparable) to all other forms of art and dedicates the calligraphy to Mir Safdar ʻAli. Although the diminutives of the calligrapher—that is, al-ʻabd (the servant) and al-mudhnib (the humble)—and his request for God's forgiveness for his sins remain, his name has been erased. Other parts of the fragment have been damaged and then repaired, suggesting that the name of the calligrapher may have been lost as a result. Mir Safdar ʻAli Khan (died 1930) was a ruler of the princely state of Hunza, in present-day northeastern Pakistan in 1886−92. When British forces invaded in December 1891, Mir Safdar ʻAli fled to Kashghar in China. Hunza became the northernmost frontier post of the British presence in India. It thus appears that this calligraphy was made for Mir Safdar ʻAli at the time of his tenure, in about 1890. If such a dating is accepted, then this piece bears witness to the continued existence and practice of nastaʻliq script in this part of India on the eve of British colonization.

Letter Exercises

This calligraphic practice sheet includes a number of diagonal words and letters written in the common Persian cursive script nastaʻliq. Letters are used in combinations, sometimes yielding fanciful agglutinates and at other times real words, facing upwards and downwards on the folio. The script is executed in brown ink on a cream-colored background, framed by a blue border, and pasted onto a sheet decorated with interlacing vines and flowers. These kinds of sheets, known as siyah mashq (literally, black practice) in Persian, were entirely covered with writing as a means to practice calligraphy and conserve paper. As an established genre, practice sheets adhered to certain rules of formal composition, largely guided by rhythm and repetition. In time, they became collectible items and thus were signed and dated. Many fragments, such as this one, were provided with a variety of decorative borders and pasted to sheets ornamented with plants or flowers painted in gold. This particular siyah mashq is signed in the corner by a famous Persian master of nastaʻliq script, Mir ‘Imad al-Hasani (died 1615). He has signed his name “‘Imad” four times, in a playful gesture emulating the repetitive nature of the practice sheet itself. Like this fragment, a number of siyah mashq sheets executed at the turn of the 17th century by ‘Imad al-Hasani were preserved and provided with illumination by Muhammad Hadi in about 1747−59. This particular siyah mashq thus shows how a master of calligraphy practiced his craft during the Safavid period in Persia (Iran). A number of other siyah mashq sheets are held in the Library of Congress.