Leaf of calligraphy: Leaf from the Shah Jahan Album, Mughal; calligraphy, ca. 1500; margin, early 17th century
Sultan cAli Mashhadi (calligraphy), Possibly Daulat (illumination)
Iran (calligraphy), India (illumination)
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper; H. 15 5/16 in. (38.9 cm), W. 10 1/4 in. (26 cm)
Purchase, Rogers Fund and The Kevorkian Foundation Gift, 1955 (22.214.171.124)
This richly illuminated folio of calligraphy features the work of the preeminent Timurid calligrapher, Sultan 'Ali Mashhadi. Patronized by the Timurid court, Mashhadi was a poet and a recognized master of the nastacliq script. In the following poem, composed by Khwaja Salman al-Savuji, he writes:
Coil up in your own tress
And then ask how I am,
How those are whom the snare
Of your affliction broke:
You want to know how all
Those broken lovers fare—
Then ask me first, for I
Am the most broken one.
This love poem belongs to a larger tradition of mystical poetry in which the lover longs for the unattainable object of his affections. His lover's tresses ensnare him and, hopelessly caught, the poet mourns his plight.