"Page of Calligraphy Illuminated with Animals and Plants in a Field of Flowers", Folio from the Shah Jahan Album

Mir 'Ali Haravi (d. ca. 1550)

Painting by Nanha
Object Name:
Album leaf
verso: ca. 1610–15; recto: ca.1535–45
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
H. 15 1/16 in. (38.3 cm) W. 10 5/16 in. (26.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Rogers Fund and The Kevorkian Foundation Gift, 1955
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Many of the pages of calligraphy have been attributed to Mir 'Ali of Herat, a famed calligrapher trained in the style of the great Persian calligrapher, Sultan 'Ali of Mashhad. The latter was known both for his poetry, primarily composed in quatrains, and his calligraphy, the majority of which is in Persian. Mir 'Ali, an artist of the Timurid court, was greatly admired, and avidly collected, by Jahangir and Shah Jahan.
    As seen here, works of calligraphy and painting from earlier eras were commonly included in Mughal-era albums and reset within contemporary Mughal margins. In this case, the margin, as well as the illumination surrounding the calligraphy, probably date from the seventeenth century, and the decoration of the delicately rendered flowering plants and grazing animals accords with such a dating.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Signature: recto:
    In Persian, last line of main calligraphy: Mir 'Ali.

    Inscription: Recto:
    Inscription in Persian in fine nasta‘liq scriptscript, three couplets by Ibn Yaqmin:
    مرد باید که هر کجا باشد عزت خویشتن نگهدارد
    خود پسندی و ابلهی نکند هر چه کبر و منیست بگذارد
    بطریقی رود که مردم را سر مویی ز خود نیازارد
    A true man should, wherever he is / Preserve his honor well;
    Show no conceit or foolishness / Or selfish pride in life
    And act so that nobody’s hair / Is touched or hurt by him
    Mir ‘Ali

    Marking: verso:
    Margin number '5' is inscribed in the gilt margin.

  • Provenance

    Jack S. Rofe, Scotland (1929; sale, Sotheby's London,December 12, 1929, to Kevorkian); [ Hagop Kevorkian, New York, from 1929]; [ Kevorkian Foundation, New York, until 1955; gift and sale to MMA]

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History