Page of Calligraphy, 'Abd al-Rahim, Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper

Page of Calligraphy

'Abd al-Rahim
Object Name:
Non-illustrated album leaf
dated A.H. 992/A.D. 1584–85
Attributed to India
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
H. 15 in. (38.1 cm)
W. 9 1/2 in. (24.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Anonymous Gift, 1994
Accession Number:
Not on view
This page, signed by the celebrated calligrapher ‘Abd al-Rahim, includes four lines of poetry arranged diagonally in nastaʻliq script and interspersed with delicately rendered birds and flowers. The poem, written by the Persian poet and calligrapher Sultan ‘Ali Mashhadi (ca. 1440–1520), addresses the pain and suffering of this world, which presents an obstacle to rest and tranquility. The calligrapher of this page, ‘Abd al-Rahim, was honored with the title Ambarin Qalam (Amber Pen), given to him by the Mughal emperor Jahangir.
Signature: `Abd al-Rahim

Inscription: God is one
The realm of any annihilation is like pain and obliteration
So, seek not [in it] rest and tranquility
Since most of the world’s elements and destiny are at last pain
From it we have a heart soaked in blood.

[Poem by the Persian calligrapher and poet Sultan Ali Mashhadi (ca. 1440–1520)]

The humble ‘Abd al-Rahim,
May God cover his faults.
Year 992
Private collection, London (until 1994; gifted to MMA)