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 Folios of calligraphy

Folios of calligraphy

Signed by Mir Imad al-Hasani, these two superb examples of calligraphy show the same quatrain. Even if they were not initially conceived as a pair, they were later matted with the script running diagonally from right to left and with matching borders as a facing pair in an imperial Safavid album. Seeing them together dramatically reinforces the visual power of nasta‘liq calligraphy. The two qit‘as, or calligraphic samples, present subtle differences in the tracing and shaping of some of the letters, including the sweeping horizontal strokes and artificial extensions of the word hich (“nothing”) on the third line from the top.

The text—a quatrain composed by the polymath Nasir al-Din Tusi, who died in 1274—may be understood as a reference to the art of calligraphy.

A man with skill has at every fingertip
A key to the lock of daily sustenance.
A hand from which nothing comes
Is an incredible burden to the body.

Folios of calligraphy
Signed by Mir Imad al-Hasani (d. 1615)
Iran, probably Isfahan, Safavid period, dated 1611–12 (1020 AH)
Borders signed by Muhammad Hadi
Iran, Safavid period, dated 1755–56 (1169 AH)
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Freer Gallery of Art F1931.20 and F1942.15b