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Holy & Mundane

Islamic Calligraphy from the 9th-19th Centuries

Art Passages


Holy & Mundane Islamic Calligraphy from the 9th-19th Centuries

Art Passages Art Passages, San Francisco, California, USA 1-415-690-9077, info@artpassages.com, www.artpassages.com


Designed by Shapour Ghasemi

Š 2013 by Art Passages. All rights reserved under the Pan-American and International Copyright Conventions.

Cover page: Page of mufradat from the Polier Album, North India, Circa 1780


Forward It is with great pleasure that I introduce this exhibit of Islamic Calligraphy spanning a thousand years. The works range from a Koran folio of North African origin written in an elegant Kufic script on vellum dating to the 9th century A.D. to a Calligraphic exercise written in Nasta’liq by Fath’Ali Shah of Persia dating to the early 19th century. My aim in this exhibit is to show the variety and diverstity of form in Islamic Calligraphy. Calligraphic Art of the Islamic World, which is generally regarded as the highest form of artistic expression owing to its primary use in recording the word of God, continued to evolve in form and style over time. It was later adapted to writing litrature, poetic compositions, and chancery works. Eventually calligraphy became a medium for the artist to create excercises, often abstract in overall form, displaying stunning visual beauty with little attention paid to its meaning or context. In courtly circles, penmanship became one of the essential skills for the elites - equally important to other princely pursuits such as archery and sworsmanship. This is evident in two examples of royal Qajar Nasta’liq exercises in the exhibit, Nos. 30 and 31. One of the highlights in this exhibit is a magnificent folio of a Koran written in Bihari script from Northern India, c. 1400, No. 13. Each line alternates in gold, black, and blue ink. The margins employ unusually large illuminated devices. Another work of note in the exhibit is a rare double folio from an imperial dictionary in Nasta’liq written for the Mughal emperor Jahangir by Jamal al-Din Inju c. 1608/9, No. 20. Folios in this dictionary, known as Farahang-i-Jahangiri, are highlighted by their elaborate borders decorated in gold, often with lively scenes of animals and birds among foliage. A further interesting example is a leaf from a Polier Album, No. 39. This composition is a calligrapher’s exercise piece executed in Nasta’liq script with the borders decorated in floral scrolls much in the European taste of the late 18th century. I would like to extend my thanks to Will Kwiatkowski for his excellent research and the writing of the catalog entries. I also want to thank Shapour Ghasemi for his beautiful design and the layout of this catalog. Shawn Ghassemi


01- Qur’an leaf in Kufic script Near East or North Africa 9th century Ink and gold on vellum 19 x 25 cm This leaf is in a large, thick Kufic hand of a type found in manuscripts of the ninth and tenth centuries. It is closest to group D.I in François Déroche’s classification of Abbasid hands (François Déroche, The Abbasid Tradition, London, 1992, pp. 36-45). The gold rules around the text show that it was once used as an album leaf or levha in the Ottomn period. For a leaf in a similar hand and of comparable dimensions, see a leaf in the Khalili Collection (ibid., no. 20, p.68), which was also refurbished in the Ottoman period. 4


02- Qur’an Leaf in Kufic script Near East or North Africa 9th century Ink and gold on vellum 16.8 x 21 cm This Qur’an leaf is in a medium-sized hand characterized by the frequent use of mashq, the horizontal stretching of the letter forms. This feature is consonant with the typically horizontal format of manuscripts in this type of hand. Other manuscripts in this tyle of hand, classified as D.IV by François Déroche (François Déroche, The Abbasid Tradition, London, 1992, pp. 36-45), include the famous Blue Qur’an, which is of similar proportions. A section from the same manuscript was sold in Christie’s, 19th October 1993, lot 33. 6


03- Eastern Kufic Qur’an Leaf Near East 11th century

Ink and gold on paper 26.5 x 20 cm This leaf is in a clear and regular Eastern Kufic or “New Style” hand. It would have probably been part of a single-volume Qur’an, for which format the combination of compactness and legibility was suited. That it was a working copy is evident from the clarifications in red naskh in the margins. For a leaf from the same manuscript, see François Déroche, The Abbasid Tradition, London, 1992, no. 98, p. 183. 8


04- Eastern Kufic Qur’an Leaf Near East 11th century

Ink and gold on paper 13.7 x 9.5 cm The Eastern Kufic or “New Style” hand of this folio from a Qur’an is accomplished and regular. Small and with only few words per page, it would have belonged to a Qur’an in thirty volumes. For comparable manuscripts, see a section in the Khalili Collection dated to the eleventh century (François Déroche, The Abbasid Tradition, London, 1992, no. 88, pp. 170-71) and another section that appeared in Sotheby’s, 30 April 1992, lot 331, datable to the early-eleventh century. Five bifolia from the same manuscript appeared in Sotheby’s, 16th October 1996, lot 5 10


05- Bifolium from a Maghribi Qur’an Spain or North Africa Circa 1250-1350

Ink and gold on vellum Bifolium 25 x 36.5 cm This bifolium is from a Qur’an written in a fine and clear Maghribi hand, comparable to that of a Qur’an in the 12


Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, Istanbul (Al-Andalus 1992, no. 83, p. 314). The format, dimensions and illumination are generally typical of Qur’ans copied in nine lines in North Africa and Spain in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries (see e.g., ibid, no. 84, p. 315; James 1992, no. 53, pp. 214-15). A section of this Qur’an appeared in Christie’s, 20 April 1999, lot 301. BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Al-Andalus: The Art of Islamic Spain, exhibition catalogue, New York, 1992. David James, The Master Scribes: Qur’ans of the 11th to 14th centuries AD, London, 1992.

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06- Bifolium from a Qur’an Anatolia or Central Asia 14th century Ink and gold on paper Bifolium 28.7 x 38 cm This bifolium is from a well-known Qur’an, once attributed to India but now believed to have been made in either Anatolia or Central Asia. It has been argued that the thin, archaic muhaqqaq hand appears unaffected by changes that took place in Qur’an production in Iran in the Ilkhanid period, and is therefore likely to come from Central Asia which would have remained isolated from such developments (Stanley 1999, p. 22). Anatolia has been suggested, on the other hand, on account of similarities with illumination on Qur’ans that were almost certainly produced there (James 1992, no. 51, p. 208). The entire manuscript has an interlinear Persian translation. Leaves from the sixth juz’ have illuminated borders added much later, possibly in the Qajar period. Leaves from this manuscript are found in numerous museums and private collections, including the David Collection and the Chester Beatty Library. BIBLIOGRAPHY

David James, The Master Scribes: Qur’ans of the 11th to 14th centuries AD, London, 1992. Tim Stanley, The Qur’ans, Scholarship and the Islamic Arts of the Book, Bermard Quaritch Ltd., London, 1999.

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07- Mamluk Qur’an leaf Egypt Circa 1327

Ink, gold and opaque watercolour on paper 45 x 33.5 cm This leaf comes from a large, colourful Mamluk Qur’an in an impressive muhaqqaq hand, related in style and format to a group of Qur’ans dating from the 1330s (James 1988, nos. 15, 17, 18, 20). A leaf from the same manuscript sold by the bookseller Philip Duschnes in New York was published with the information that it came from a manuscript copied in 1327 by Ahmad ibn ‘Abdallah ibn al-Mansur Hashimi al-’Abbasi. While this is yet to be corroborated, the date is certainly plausible. Two leaves from the same manuscript are in the Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Collection (Welch 1972, Vol. II, calligraphy 4, 4A, p. 11). Another leaf was in the Stuart Cary Welch Collection (Sotheby’s, 6th April 2011, lot 16). An inscription across the top of the page indicates that the Qur’an was once made a pious endowment (waqf). BIBLIOGRAPHY

David James, Qur’ans of the Mamluks, London, 1988. Anthony Welch & Stuart Cary Welch, Collection of Islamic Art, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, IV vols, Genva, 1972.

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08- Leaf from a collection of Qur’anic Verses Anatolia or Syria 14th century

Ink, gold and opaque watercolour on paper 25 x 20 cm This page comes from a manuscript of selected verses from the Qur’an that shows the influence of both Mamluk and Ilkhanid styles. While the style of illumination is broadly Mamluk, the bright palette is probably the result of Ilkhanid influence. While a Syrian origin is possible, the rather free, fluid hand may well point to Anatolia. Another leaf from this manuscript in the Stuart Cary Welch Collection (Sotheby’s, 6th April 2011, lot 21). For similar Qur’anic illumination attributed to Anatolia or Central Asia, see David James, Qur’ans of the Mamluks, 1988, no. 59, p. 172. 20


09- Turkman Qur’an Leaf Iran Circa 1480

Ink, gold and opaque watercolour on paper 47.5 x 33 cm The single-volume Qur’an from which this leaf derives is thought to have been made in the Aqqoyunlu milieu in the late-fifteenth century on account of similarities with a Qur’an made for Ya’qub Beg in Shiraz in 1483 (David James, After Timur: Qur’ans of the 15th and 16th centuries AD, London, 1992, no. 9, pp. 42-5). The dark muhaqqaq hand is striking against the white, highly polished paper. 22


10- Qur’an leaf in gold muhaqqaq Iran First half of the 14th century Ink and gold on paper 28.5 x 20.5 cm The magnificent Qur’an made for Sultan Öljaytü in Hamadan set a precedent for the combination of gold text and blue vocalization in Iranian Qur’ans of the fourteenth century (James 1988, no. 45). The hand, format and illumination of this leaf are all comparable with a Qur’an copied by Amir Hajj ibn Ahmad al-Sayini in Iran in 1334 and later taken to the Yemen (see ibid., cat. 55; James 1992, no. 27, pp. 114-19). BIBLIOGRAPHY

David James, Qur’ans of the Mamluks, London, 1988. David James, After Timur: Qur’ans of the 15th and 16th centuries AD, London, 1992.

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11- Leaf from a Safavid Qur’an Shiraz, Iran Circa 1550-80

Ink and gold on paper 32.5 x 21 cm The illuminated marginal devices, clear naskh hand and illuminated panel containing the sura heading in white riqa’ are typical features of the luxurious Qur’ans made in Shiraz in the second half of the sixteenth century. A Qur’an of comparable dimensions, format and illumination in the Khalili Collection is dated 1564-5 (David James, After Timur: Qur’ans of the 15th and 16th centuries AD, London, 1992, no. 45, pp. 184-89). 26


12- Verses from the Qur’an Ottoman Empire 17th century

Ink on marbled paper 42 x 35 cm Though the earliest examples of writing on marbled paper in the Islamic World date to around 1539 in Central Asia, by the end of the sixteenth century it was being produced in Istanbul. In the following decades the production of marbled paper become so associated with the Ottoman Empire that it was known in Europe simply as “Turkish” paper. Though marbled paper quickly became extremely popular for making designs, doublures and the outer borders of album pages, its use here as the ground for the written text is extremely rare. Nor are the hand and format in anyway typical of Qur’ans manuscripts of the period, and it may be that this leaf comes from an album of verses rather than a complete copy of the Qur’an. BIBLIOGRAPHY

Nedim Sönmez, Ebru, Marmorpapiere, Ravensburg, 1992, esp. pp. 30-38.

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13- Leaf from a bihari Qur’an North India 15th century

Ink, gold and opaque watercolour on paper 23.5 x 21.5 cm This leaf comes from a well-known Qur’an in the distinctive bihari script used in India in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The manuscript is particularly colorful, written in alternating gold, black and blue, and with elaborate illuminated devices marking the various textual divisions. On this page an illuminated band contains the sura title in gold (al-Mujadila), while in the margin a large teardrop device marks the beginning of a section or juz’ and a medallion containing the letter ‘ayn marks a tenth verse. The margins also contain a commentary in Persian written on the diagonal. The origin of the term bihari is not clear, though it is unlikely to derive rom the region of Bihar where there was little tradition of Islamic learning or manuscript production. The earliest Qur’an showing characteristics of bihari script is dated 1399 and the tradition survived at least into the 1520s when a Qur’an in the Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, was copied (Losty 1982, pp. 38-39). Leaves from this manuscript can be found in numerous museums and collections, including the Los Angeles County Museum (Pal 1993, no. 40) and the David Collection, Copenhagen (von Folsach 2001, no. 14). BIBLIOGRAPHY

Kjeld von Folsach, Art from the World of Islam in the David Collection, Copenhagen, 2001. Jerry Losty, Art of the Book in India, London, 1982. Pratyapaditya Pal, Indian Painting: A Catalogue of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Collection, Los Angeles, 1993.

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14- Leaf from a bihari Qur’an North India Circa 1500

Ink, gold and opaque watercolour on paper 33.5 x 26 cm The contrast between the thin vertical parts and the thick horizontal parts of the letters that is generally a feature of so-called bihari Qur’ans is particularly evident on this leaf. The earliest dated Qur’an in bihari script, made in Gwalior in 1399, shows this tendency in only its infancy, making a date in the late-fifteenth or early-sixteenth century more likely for this manuscript (see Jerry Losty, Art of the Book in India, London, 1982, no. 18, pp. 55-56). For a Qur’an in a similar hand and of similar format, see a Qur’and dated to c. 1500 in the British Library (ibid., no. 20, pp. 56-57). 32


15- Leaf from a small bihari Qur’an North India Circa 1500

Ink, gold and opaque watercolor on paper 15 x 11.5 cm Bihari Qur’ans are typically of large or medium size, making this small leaf unusual. For a bihari Qur’an of similar dimensions, see Nabil F. Safwat, The Harmony of Letters, Islamic Calligraphy from the Tareq Rajab Museum, Singapore, 1997, p. 88. 34


16- The Names of God, Muhammad, ‘Ali, Fatima, Hasan and Husayn, composed of chapters from the Qur’an in ghubari script Iran Second half of the 19th century

Ink, gold and opaque watercolour on paper 25.5 x 39.5 cm Ghubari, the name for this miniature script, comes from ghubar, the Arabic word for dust. It was used in particular for small copies of the Qur’ans as well as on Qur’anic and talismanic scrolls, where the tiny letters were often shaped to form larger letters or the ground against which larger letters were formed in reserve (see e.g., a scroll in the Aga Khan Museum, Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum, no. 47, p. 114), sometimes as part of floral or zoomorphic designs (Stanley 1996, item 31). During the later-Qajar period, calligraphic panels, with pious formulae in ghubari script became popular in Iran and the Ottoman Empire. On this leaf, various chapters from the Qur’an surround the names of God, Muhammad and ‘Ali in the panel at the top, and further chapters form the names of Hasan, Husayn and Fatima. For another Shi’i formula made from ghubari script, this time in the form of a lion, see Sotheby’s, Doha, 16th December 2010, lot 98. The illumination points to a date in the second half of the nineteenth century. There is also an experimental feel to the calligraphy, such as the floriated form of the letter mim that is reminiscent of the work of Qajar calligraphers such as Malik Muhammad (e.g., Safwat 1996, nos. 113-114, pp. 176-177). BIBLIOGRAPHY

Nabil F. Safwat, Art of the Pen: Calligraphy of the 14th to 20th centuries AD, London, 1996. Tim Stanley, The Qur’an and Calligraphy, Bernard Quaritch Catalogue 1213, London, 1996. Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum, exhibition catalogue, Istanbul, 2011.

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17- Double page illuminated opening to the Sharafnameh-ye Eskandari Shiraz, Iran Circa 1570-1590

Ink, gold and opaque watercolour on paper Bifolium 40 x 50 cm The lavish illumination and impressive dimensions of this double-page opening to the Sharafnameh-ye Eskandari, one of the five mathnavis that make up Nizami’s Khamsa or “Quintet”, are typical of Shiraz manuscripts of the 1570s and 1580s. During these decades manuscripts increased in size and the illustrations grew in number and complexity of composition. At the beginning of the 1590s there was a considerable decline in the quality of production, which was probably linked to the downfall of the Zu’lqadir rulers of the city (see Uluç 2006, pp. 319-321, 464-465). Along with Firdausi’s Shahnameh, Nizami’s Khamsa was the most frequently copied work in Shiraz in the 16th century. For other luxury copies made in Shiraz in the same period, see Uluç 2006, figs. 137, 172, 180-182, 246. BIBLIOGRAPHY

Lale Uluç, Turkman governors, Shiraz artisans, Ottoman Collectors: Sixteenth century Shiraz manuscripts, Istanbul, 2006.

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18- Bifolium from Jami’s Yusuf va Zulaykha with marginal drawings in gold Iran Second half of the 16th century

Ink, gold and opaque watercolour on paper Bifolium 28 x 38.5 cm Highly accomplished artists were employed to decorate the borders on luxury manuscripts in the Safavid period. This double page comes from Yusuf va Zulaykha, one of the seven mathnavis that make up Jami’s Haft Aurang or “Seven Thrones”. The high quality of the lively border drawings indicates that it was made in one of the metropolitan centres, probably in the second half of the sixteenth century. For a double page from a copy of Jami’s Subhat al-Abrar, made in Iran in the same period and with borders illuminated with drawings of similar design, now in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, see Elaine Wright, Islam: Faith, Art, Culture. Manuscripts of the Chester Beatty Library, London, 2009 fig. 184, p. 238. 44


19- Double page illuminate opening to the Eskandarnameh Mughal India Circa 1600-1610

Ink, gold and opaque watercolour on paper Bifolium 32.5 x 37 cm The Mughals followed the Iranian and Central Asian traditions of filling the borders of their luxury manuscripts and albums with designs of plants and real and mythical animals in gold brushwork. Though these designs were initially of Iranian and Indian inspiration, they were soon joined by animals from the Indian subcontinent and executed in distinctly Mughal styles. The magnificent and incentive borders on a copy of the Khamsa of Nizami made for Akbar in 1595 mark a watershed in the development of Mughal marginal painting, as do the extraordinary marginal paintings of all manner of subjects and often in full colour on the albums prepared for Jahangir (see Brend 1995; Losty 1982, nos. 65, 78; Beach 1978, nos. 5-12). The marginal drawings in gold on this double-page opening to Nizami’s Eskandarnameh are strikingly close to those on the borders of the Farhang-i Jahangiri, which are believed to have been executed in first decade of the seventeenth century (see no. 28 and Leach 1995, pp. 321-24). As in that manuscript they are in a simple but energetic style, painted in solid gold with a black outline. Here details have been enlivened with colours drawn from the same palette as the illuminated sarlawh or heading. BIBLIOGRAPHY

Milo Cleveland Beach, The Grand Mogul, Imperial Painting in India 1600-1660, Williamstown MA, 1978. Barbara Brend, The Emperor Akbar’s Khamsa of Nizami, London, 1995. Linda York Leach, Mughal and Other Indian Paintings from the Chester Beatty Library, Volume I, London 1995. Jeremiah P. Losty, Art of the Book in India, London, 1982.

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20- Bifolium from the Farhang-e Jahangiri Mughal India 1608-9

Ink, gold and opaque watercolour on paper Folio 34.5 x 23.4 cm This double page comes from the Farhang-i Jahangiri, a huge dictionary of around 10,000 words used by Persian poets, including many obscure Persian words as well as Arabic, Indian, Turkic and Greek ones. It was commissioned by Akbar and completed under the patronage of Jahangir in 1608/1609. The author, Jamal al-Din Inju was an ĂŠmigrĂŠ from Shiraz, who worked first in the Deccan before winning the patronage of Akbar. It is believed that the manuscript from these leaves derive was the original copy which would have been presented to Jahangir on the completion of the work. The striking borders, which are filled with flowers, real and mythical animals, and all manner of humans including huntsmen, craftsmen, Europeans and yogis, are stylistically consistent with a date in the first decade of the seventeenth century. The animal designs, such as the one here of a leopard chasing an antelope, are particulary notable for their energy. A section of the manuscript belonged to the French dealer Georges Demotte in the early-twentieth century, who removed many of the borders and reused them as mounts for Persian and Mughal paintings. It was probably also from him that fifteen pages from the manuscript were acquired by the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin. Due to the dismemberment of the manuscript, very few double pages have survived and are virtually unknown on the art market. This bifolium provides a rare insight into how the borders were designed as double pages of complimentary designs. The work was unusually arranged according to the second rather than the last or first letter of the word. This double page comes from the chapter of words that have nun as the second letter. BIBLIOGRAPHY

Linda York Leach, Mughal and Other Indian Paintings from the Chester Beatty Library, Volume I, London 1995, pp. 321-324.

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Verso: Bifolium from the Farhang-e Jahangiri


21- Practice sheet in ta’liq script

Iran Signed by Darvish ‘Abdullah Munshi, dated 911 / 1505-6. Ink, gold and opaque watercolour on paper Folio 26 x 18 cm This is an example of the script known as ta’liq, which was used almost exclusively for insha’, the composition of official documents and correspondence. This leaf is signed by a well known munshi or secretary, Darvish ‘Abdallah Munshi. It is a copy of a text in which the author complains of homesickness for the city of Shiraz, which he left some seventeen years ago, as well as a prayer and a quatrain in Persian. Darvish ‘Abdullah has written that it is hard to imagine a more beautiful text and relates the great effect reading it had upon him. It is dated 911 / 1505-6. Other compositions in ta’liq by Darvish ‘Abdullah were included in the album made for the Amir Ghayb Beg, now in the Topkapı Palace Library (see David Roxburgh, The Persian Album, 1400-1600: From Dispersal to Collection, New Haven, 2004, p. 231). 58


22- Album page with illuminated shamsa Iran or Khurasan, possibly Herat 16th century

Ink, gold and opaque watercolour on paper Folio 27 x 18 cm Shamsas, illuminated rosettes, containing dedications to high-ranking patrons were frequently placed at the opening of a manuscript. This beautiful shamsa, however, contains invocations to God, Muhammad and ‘Ali and has been included in an album page along with verses from a mathnavi. Judging by the illumination, it was probably made in the early-Safavid period, possibly in Herat. For an album page containing a shamsa of a similar design, see Sotheby’s, 28 April 2004, lot 31. 60


23- Persian quatrain in nasta’liq Khurasan, Herat or Bukhara Signed “The Poor ‘Ali” Circa 1500-1530

Ink, gold and opaque watercolour on paper 20.3 x 10.2 cm This quatrain praises the hand of the calligrapher, who may well have been the author as well. It is signed “The poor Mir ‘Ali”, one of the many signatures thought to belong to the famous calligrapher Mir ‘Ali Haravi. He was born in Herat and worked there at the court of the Timurid Sultan Husayn Bayqara, who awarded him with the title of sultani, “Royal [Scribe]”. Following Sultan Husayn’s death in 1506, Mir ‘Ali moved to Mashhad, but returned to enter the service of a nobleman following the Safavid capture of the city in 1513. In 1528, however, Herat fell to the Uzbek ‘Ubaydallah Khan, who took the artist with him to Bukhara when he was forced out of the Herat in 1530. Mir ‘Ali’s work was avidly collected, particularly by the Mughals, and formed the bulk of the calligraphic component of imperial albums such as the famous Golshan Album compiled by Jahangir and the Kevorkian Album, which was initiated by Jahangir and completed by Shah Jahan. Mir ‘Ali is the author of some of the poems in his hand included in the Kevorkian Album (Welch et al., 1987, nos. 27, 56). BIBLIOGRAPHY

Stuart Cary Welch, Annemarie Schimmel, Marie L. swietochowski, Wheeler M. Thackston, The Emperor’s Album, Images of Mughal India, New York, 1987. Elaine Wright, Muraqqa’: Imperial Mughal Albums from the Chester Beatty Library Dublin, Hanover & London 2008, esp. pp. 154-55.

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24- Page from Nizami’s Makhzan al-Asrar Khurasan, Herat or Bukhara Circa 1575

Ink, gold and opaque watercolour on paper 26.5 x 16.5 cm This page comes from a copy of Nizami’s mathnavi Makhzan al-Asrar and contains part of the story of a fruit-seller. The dimensions and borders with portraits set in contoured medallions and cartouches containing a quatrain in Persian are very similar to those on two leaves from a copy of Jami’s Yusuf va Zulaikha sold at Christie’s, 5th October 2010, lot 227. As on one of those leaves, a cartouche here contains the name of the scribe Hasan ‘Ali, confirming that if these leaves do not belong to the same manuscript, they certainly belong to the same workshop. The leaf is also stylistically related to five leaves from Jami’s Salaman va Absal and three leaves from the Subhat al-Abrar of the same author, all in the Chester Beatty Library (Arberry et al. 1958-62, nos. 209, 210). Basil Robinson has ascribed the portraits on these to the metropolitan style practiced in Khurasan c. 1575. Borders with alternating cartouches and medallions are also a feature associated with manuscripts from Herat and Bukhara in this period, including several of the leaves from the Read Albums in the Pierpoint Morgan Library (Schmitz 1997, p. 113). BIBLIOGRAPHY

A.J. Arberry, M. Minovi, E. Blochet, J.V.S. Wilkinson, The Chester Beatty Library. A Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts and Miniatures, 3 vols., Dublin, 1958-62. Barbara Schmitz, Islamic and Indian Manuscripts and Paintings in the Pierpoint Morgan Library, New York, 1997.

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25- Album page with Persian quatrain in nasta’liq Mughal India Signed by ‘Abd al-Rashid, 1033 / 1623-4

Ink, gold and opaque watercolour on paper, mounted on album page 30.5 x 21.5 cm This quatrain is signed by the famous calligrapher ‘Abd al-Rashid Daylami and is dated to 1033 / 1623-4, at which point the calligrapher was in the service of Shah Jahan. A nephew and pupil of the famous calligrapher Mir ‘Emad, after the latter’s assassination he migrated from Isfahan to India where he joined the court of Shah Jahan. He became an intimate of the emperor and instructed prince Dara Shokuh and princess Zib al-Nisa’ in the art of calligraphy. Possibly already towards the end of Shah Jahan’s reign, and certainly during that of Aurangzeb’s, he held the administrative post in charge of the royal buyutat or workshops. The year of his death is given is 1081 / 1670-1 in a poem dedicated to his memory, and his work is dated between 1030 / 1620-1 and 1071 / 1660-1 (Mehdi Bayani, Ahval ve Asar-e Khoshnevisan, 4 vols., Tehran, 1358 / 1939, no. 541, pp. 393-400). 66


A portrait of a young nobleman on the verso

26- Album Page with verses by Hafez

Mughal India Quatrain signed by ‘Abd al-Rahim ‘Anbarin Qalam Circa 1600-30 Ink, gold and opaque watercolour on paper, mounted on an album page 39 x 26.5 cm The Mughals prized work by contemporary calligraphers as well as by the old Persian masters. These lines from a ghazal of Hafez are signed faqir ‘abd al-rahim ‘anbarin qalam, or “The poor ‘Abd al-Rahim, Ambergris Pen”, a title probably bestowed on the calligrapher by Jahangir. Born in Herat, ‘Abd al-Rahim migrated to India at a young age and enter the service of ‘Abd al-Rahim Khan Khanan, and then that of the Emperor Akbar, for whom he copied several manuscripts including a famous copy of Nizami’s Khamsa. Jahangir, with whom he enjoyed a close association, later had his portrait added to this manuscript. Two of his pieces were included in the famous Golshan Album compiled by Jahangir, and fifteen pieces in his hand were included in an album compiled by Shah Jahan, formerly in the library of Mehdi Bayani (Bayani , no 536, pp. 389-91). The painting on the verso of a young nobleman is attributable to the Deccan in the middle of the eighteenth century. BIBLIOGRAPHY

Mehdi Bayani, Ahval va Asar-e Khoshnevisan, 4 vols., Tehran, 1358 / 1939. Barbara Brend, The Emperor Akbar’s Khamsa of Nizami, London, 1995.

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27- Album leaf with Persian verses

Iran Signed by Rahimullah, dated 1286 / 1869-70 Ink and gold on paper 30.5 x 19.5 cm This album leaf represents a late stage in the tradition of the type qita’ or calligraphic “fragment” popularized in the sixteenth century by calligraphers like Mir ‘Ali Haravi (see no. 23), and collected for inclusion in albums of calligraphy and painting. Typically, such pieces contained a quatrain or four hemistichs from a ghazal, written on the diagonal. This piece contains four hemistichs from a ghazal of the Indo-Persian poet Amir Khusrau (12531325) and is signed by a certain Rahimullah in the year 1286 / 1869-70. 70


28- Album page of siyah mashq Iran First half of the 19th century

Ink, gold and opaque watercolour on paper, mounted on an album page 41.5 x 26.5 cm This attractive siyah mashq consists of part of a Persian benedictory quatrain wishing good fortune on a ruler. 72


29- Album page of siyah mashq Iran First half of the 19th century

Ink and gold on paper, mounted on an album page 36.5 x 22 cm This siyah mashq contains verses by various poets, including a couplet by Sana’i and part of a ghazal by Amir Khusrau. 74


30- Double album page with calligraphic exercise by Fath’ali Shah Iran Circa 1800-1830

Ink, gold and opaque watercolour on paper, mounted on album pages Bifolium 39.5 x 31.5 cm Nos. 33 and 34 both come from an album containing calligraphy by the Qajar rulers of Iran, who were often accomplished calligraphers and frequently gave out practice sheets as gifts. These two two pages have been made from a practice sheet signed by the Qajar ruler Fath’ali Shah, an avid calligrapher who chose the celebrated Mir ‘Emad (d. 1615) as his model (Ekhtiar 2006, p. 116). The ruler has copied a single hemistich three times as an exercise in calligraphic precision. The hemistich has an appropriately imperial content: “In this court there must be servitude”. Other album pages made from similar practice sheets signed by Fath’ali Shah include a single page in the Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan collection (Islamic Calligraphy, no. 120), a further page exhibited in the Treasure of Islam exhibition (Treasures of Islam, no. 176, p. 189), and another double album page which appeared in Sotheby’s, 13th April 2000, lot 48. BIBLIOGRAPHY

Mariam Ekhtiar, “Practice Makes Perfect: The Art of Calligraphy Exercises (Siyah Mashq) in Iran”, Muqarnas, 23 (2006), pp. 107-130. Islamic Calligraphy, exhibition catalogue, Geneva, 1988. Treasures of Islam, exhibition catalogue, Geneva, 1985.

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31- Album Page of siyah mashq by Muhammad Shah Qajar, dedicated to his wife Khadijeh Khanom Iran October 1844

Ink, gold and opaque watercolour on paper, mounted on album page 31 x 19.5 cm This page comes from the same album of Qajar royal calligraphy as no 30. It is a practice sheet of verses from Firdausi’s Shahnameh with a cartouche in the upper border inscribed with an attribution to the ruler Muhammad Shah. Lisan al-Mulk Sepehr mentions Muhammad Shah’s skill in nasta’liq in the Nasikh al-Tawarikh, and numerous several album pages in nasta’liq and shekasteh-ye nasta’liq, dated between 1251 / 1835-6 and 1261 / 1845, bear his signature (Bayani, no. 1087, pp. 750-52). In the top left corner is a dedication to his wife Khadijeh Khanom, who is here described as the mother of the vice-regent (na’ib al-saltana). This is a reference to Muhammad Shah’s favorite son, ‘Abbas Mirza, who was later known by the title “Molk Ara”, or “Ornament of the Kingdom”. Despite his father’s preference for him, ‘Abbas Mirza, it was his elder brother Nasir al-Din who was appointed heir-apparent and eventually succeeded to the throne. Though the date is not quite clear, the most likely reading is 7th Shawwal 1260 / October 1844. This type of calligraphic exercises, known as siyah mashq, or “black writing”, consists of letters or combinations of letters repeated in such a fashion that they overlap. As here, the page was frequently rotated so that the text ran in different directions. The first siyah mashq were produced by the calligrapher Mir ‘Emad (d.1615), after a visit to the Ottoman Empire, where he was inspired by the Ottoman karalama tradition. These pieces were executed and collected as artistic compositions in their own right, those of Mir ‘Emad being particularly sought after; several of his siyah mashq compositions were included in the famous St. Petersburg Album in the eighteenth century (Ekhtiar, pp. 112-116). The art form witnessed a renewed popularity in the nineteenth century, thanks in part to the efforts of the Qajar rulers themselves, many of whom were avid calligraphers and gave out pieces in their own hand as gifts. For two royal Qajar siyah mashq pages now in the Khalili Collection, see Ekhtiar 2006, figs. 16, 17. BIBLIOGRAPHY

Mehdi Bayani, Ahval va Asar-e Khoshnevisan, 4 vols., Tehran, 1358 / 1939 Mariam Ekhtiar, “Practice Makes Perfect: The Art of Calligraphy Exercises (Siyah Mashq) in Iran”, Muqarnas, 23 (2006), pp. 107-130.

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32- Album page of siyah mashq

Iran Signed by Asadullah Shirazi, 1258 / 1842-3 Ink, gold and opaque watercolour on paper, mounted on an album page 48 x 33 cm This siyah mashq, the subject of which is a prayer, is signed by the Qajar calligrapher Asadullah al-Shirazi and dated 1258 / 1842-3. Asadullah has called himself katib al-hazrat al-sultani, “the scribe of His Royal Highness”, a title awarded him by Muhammad Shah Qajar. At the top of the page, in small letters the name of the Shah himself appears: “The Sultan Muhammad Shah Ghazi”. Another album page bearing the Shah’s name and Asadullah’s signature, dated 1257 / 1841-2, is recorded by Mehdi Bayani (Mehdi Bayani, Asar va Ahval- e Khoshnevisan, 4 vols., Tehran, 1358 / 1939, p. 23). 80


33- Nine double album pages in shekasteh-ye nasta’liq Iran 18th or 19th century

Ink and gold on paper, mounted on album pages Folio 20.5 x 13.5 cm These pages from an album contain verses from ghazals by Hafez in the script known as shekasteh-ye nasta’liq. Perhaps the most graphic of all the Persian scripts, it is characterized by fluidity of form and the distinctive joining of certain letter combinations. These shorthand connections allowed the scribe to write words in a single stroke without removing pen from paper, and thereby copy official documents and letters more quickly. It developed out of nasta’liq in the seventeenth century and reached the height of its popularity in the late-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries under masters like Darvish ‘Abd al-Majid Taleqani (see no. 34). By this point it had come to be appreciated as an art form in its own right and was included in albums of calligraphy and painting. For a contemporary album devoted entirely to shekasteh-ye nasta’liq, see Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum, no. 45, pp. 96-7. BIBLIOGRAPHY

Sheila S. Blair, Islamic Calligraphy, Edinburgh, 2006, pp. 441-446. Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum, exhibition catalogue, Istanbul, 2010.

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Verso: Two double album pages in shekasteh-ye nasta’liq


34- Album page of Persian verses in shekasteh-ye nasta’liq Iran Signed by Darvish ‘Abd al-Majid, dated 1182 / 1768-9

Ink, gold and opaque watercolour on paper, mounted on album page 43.5 x 29.5 cm These verses in shekasteh-ye nasta’liq are signed by the undisputed master of that hand, ‘Abd al-Majid Taleqani, who was known by the name “Darvish”. He was born in Taleqan near Qazvin and as a poor young man moved to Isfahan. He studied nasta’liq there, though quickly turned to shekasteh-ye nasta’liq of which he quickly established himself as the preeminent exponent. He had several talented pupils, all of whom became masters of the style. He died at the young age of 35 and his recorded works are dated beetween 1170 / 1756-7 and 1185 / 1771, the year of his death (see Mehdi Bayani, Ahval va Asar-e Khoshnevisan, 4 vols, Tehran, 1358 / 1939, pp. 1262-63). 86


35- Album page of shekasteh-ye nasta’liq Isfahan, Iran First half of 19th century

nk and gold on paper, mounted on album page 33.5 x 21 cm This calligraphic page contains various texts in shekasteh-ye nasta’liq , including a story about Mahmud of Ghazna, the opening chapter of the Qur’an, and Persian quatrains. The calligrapher has not signed the work, but it is in the style of Muhammad Shafi’ Visal, known as Mirza Kuchak (d. 1846), one of the most celebrated calligraphers of the Qajar period. In one place, the calligrapher states that the piece was made as a gift for a friend, and elsewhere that it was copied in Isfahan. 88


36- Album page of an exercise in shekasteh-ye nasta’liq Iran Signed by al-Sayyid ‘Ali, first half of the 19th century

Gold and opaque watercolour on paper, mounted on album page 36.5 x 21.5 cm The scribe of these verses in shekasteh-ye nasta’liq states at the top of the page that it is a sar-mashq, or exercise. He has signed the work al-Sayyid ‘Ali and has written a a dedication to an unnamed person up the left side. 90


37- Album page with Qur’anic verses

Iran Signed by ‘Abd al-’Ali, Rabi’ al-Awwal 1238 / November-December 1822 Ink and gold on paper, mounted on album page 28 x 19 cm In Iran the type naskh used for copying the Qur’ans, the development of which is traditionally ascribed to Ahmad Nayrizi, was also used for copying selected Qur’anic verses, hadith, prayers, and aphorisms, often for inclusion in albums. This piece contains verses from the Qur’an and is signed by the calligrapher ‘Abd al-’Ali and dated Rabi’ al-Awwal 1238 / November-December 1822. A very similar composition by the same calligrapher, where he signs himself Ibn Muhammad al-Khurasani ‘Abd al-’Ali,dated Rabi’ al-Thani 1231 / March 1816, is in the Khalili Collection (Nabil F. Safwat The Art of the Pen, Calligraphy of the 14th to 20th centuries AD, London, 1996, no. 168, pp. 221-22). 92


38- Album page of mufradat

North India Signed by Muhammad Muzaffar al-Din, 1278 / 1861-2 Ink and gold on paper, mounted on album page 16 x 25 cm This page of mufradat, alphabetical exercises, is signed by a certain Muhammad Muzaffar al-Din and dated 1278 / 1861-2. The calligrapher may well be the same Muhammad Muzaffar al-Din who penned a copy of Sa’di’s Gulistan dated 1272 / 1855 that appeared in Sotheby’s on 11th October 1991, lot 962. 94


39- Page of mufradat from the Polier Album North India Circa 1780

Ink, gold, silver and opaque watercolour on paper 26.5 x 34 cm The distinctive border on this album page identifies it as having come from an album commissioned by Antoine Polier, a Swiss engineer in the service of the East India Company and the Nawwabs of Awadh (Oudh) in the late-eighteenth century. During his residence in Lucknow, Polier ordered a group of artists headed by the painter Mihr Chand to compile various albums of both antique and newly-commissioned paintings and calligraphy. Eleven of these albums are now in the Museum fテシr Islamische Kunst, Berlin. Among the new calligraphic specimens commissioned by Polier is a quatrain signed by Muhammad 窶連li, a calligrapher at the Mughal court in Delhi, dated 1196 / 1781-2 (Fraser & Kwiatkowski 2006, no. 40, p. 130). The hand is comparable to that of these mufradat and raises the possibility that it too was among the pieces commissioned by Polier himself. BIBLIOGRAPHY

Regina Hickmann, Indische Albumblテ、tter, Miniaturen und Kalligraphien aus der Zeit der Moghul-Kaiser, Leipzig and Weimar, 1979. Marcus Fraser & Will Kwiatkowski, Ink and Gold: Islamic Calligraphy, London, 2006.

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40- Mufradat

Ottoman Empire 17th or 18th century Ink, gold and opaque watercolour on paper No dimensions This mufradat on this page consists of combinations of letters beginning with the letter ha in thulth and muhaqqaq. The hand is highly accomplished and shows a confident stylization. The spaciousness and fluidity of the line suggest that the calligrapher was active sometime after Hafız Osman’s style became popular in the late-17th century (see M. Uğur Derman, Letters in Gold: Ottoman Calligraphy from e Sakıp Sabancı Collection, Istanbul, New York, 1998, p. 72). 98


41- Land purchase by Grand Vizier Muhammad Mu’min Khan Shamlu Mashhad, Iran 10th Dhu’l-Qa’da 1115 / March 1704

Ink, gold and opaque watercolour on paper 86 x 37 cm This grand document is a contract for a land purchase in the vicinity of Mashhad by the grand vizier of the Safavid Shah Sultan Husayn, Muhammad Mu’min Khan Shamlu ‘Itimad al-Daula. The contract is dated 10th Dhu’l-Qa’da 1115 / March 1704 and states that Muhammad Mu’min Khan bought the land through his agents from a certain ‘Abd al-Ghaffar, the son of Mir Vali Bayg Bijareh(?). Muhammad Mu’min Khan’s names and title appear in the top of the right margin, and below are the name and seal of Mirza Mahmud Da’ud, who is described as mutawalli or administrator, possibly of the shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad. The document and payment has been witnessed at the top with the signatures and seals of several individuals, who all appear to hold the office of khadem (attendant) at the shrine. 100


42- Calligrapher’s diploma (icazet) Ottoman provinces Circa 1800-1850

Ink, gold and opaque watercolour on paper 64 x 19 cm This long icazet, or diploma, was awarded to a certain Hasan al-Hilmi by a long list of calligraphers, many of whom studied with a certain Da’ud Khwajah (Davut Hoca). It is undated but can be attributed to the first half of the nineteenth century on the basis of certain features in the illumination, such as the flowers tied with ribbons and the green acanthus leaves, typical of - “delayed Baroque” style, first seen in Ottoman manuscripts production in first decade of the nineteenth century (Manijeh Bayani, J.M. Rogers, Tim Stanley, The Decorated Word: Qur’ans of the 17th to 19th centuries AD. Part Two, London, 2009, pp. 209-12). 102


Holy & Mundane  

Art Passages 2013 London: Holy & Mundane, Islamic Calligraphy from the 9th-19th Centuries

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