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Collecting Turkmen Jewelry: The Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf Collection


Page of Calligraphy

Object Name:
Non-illustrated album leaf
17th century
Northern India
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
12 1/4 x 8 1/2 in. (31.1 x 21.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Richard S. Perkins Gift, 1986
Accession Number:
  • Description

    This leaf of fine nasta'liq calligraphy was conceived as an artistic endeavor, in which the writing is integrated with the ornamental background. The decorative technique of marbleizing paper spread from Iran to Turkey and to India, particularly the Deccan. Nasta'liq calligraphy, employed in Iran, had also been favored in India since the late sixteenth century. Here, the scribe was very conscious of the rhythms and balances of the horizontal and vertical letters, written diagonally. The strong black ink against the gentle swirls of the smoky blue and pale beige of the marbleized design gives the impression that the letters are floating, adding a mystical dimension to the page.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Signature: Signature on lower left, recto, reads: 'Written by the poor sinner Muhammad Salih, the scribe, may his sins be forgiven and his faults be covered' (Translation by AM Schimmel, Jan. 1989, Feb. 1992)
    Signed and inscribed on bottom, verso: 'Written by the sinner Mirza Muhammad the scribe' (Translation by AM Schimmel, Jan. 1989)

    Inscription: Center inscription, recto: 'Call `Ali who manifests wonderful things. You will find him a help for you in difficulties. Every grief and sorrow will be cleared away by your sacred blessing. Oh `Ali, Oh `Ali, Oh `Ali.' (Translation by AM Schimmel, Jan. 1989, Feb. 1992)

    Upper line, verso: 'He brought me back from unconsciousness to consciousness.'
    Center quatrain, verso: 'If his stature ruins me
    Put me as dust under a cypress
    Although I was stained by sins
    The fire of love burnt me pure'
    (Translation by AM Schimmel, Jan. 1989)

    In Arabic language and in nasta’liq script:
    ناد علیاً مظهر العجائب تجـده عونـاً لـک فـي النوائب
    کل هـم و غـم سینجــلي بولایتک یا علي یا علي یا علي
    Call upon Ali through whom miracles are made manifest, you will find him a help in misfortunes.
    All anguish and sorrow will disappear through your friendship, O ‘Alī O ‘Alī O ‘Alī.
    The name of the calligrapher written as;
    کتبه الفقیر المذنب محمد صالح الکاتب/ غفر ذنوبه و ستر/عیوبه
    Wrote it the poor the sinful Muḥammad Ṣāliḥ al-Kātib (the writer) [may God forgive his sins and hide them.


    The inscriptions read by Annemarie Schimmel as:
    ناد علیاً مظهر العجائب تجـده عونـاً لـک فـي النوائب
    کل هـم و غـم سینجــلي بولایتک یا علي یا علي یا علي

    کتبه الفقیر المذنب محمد صالح الکاتب غفر ذنوبه و سترعیوبه

  • Provenance

    [ Vipasha, Ltd., London, until 1986; sold to MMA]

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History